With news that the Chicago Tribune has agreed to print the Chicago Sun-Times and seven of its suburban daily newspapers, it appears that the consolidation of printing within our industry will continue. The Chicago Tribune reports that when the Chicago Sun-Times plant closes its doors this fall, more than 400 union workers, from pressmen to drivers, will be out of work.
For a stunning look at up-to-date plant consolidations/closings click here.
As we are beginning to see in other cities, this news also signals an increased cooperation between once perceived rivals. The Chicago Tribune quoted Sun-Times Media Chairman Jeremy Halbreich as saying; "As the circulation has fallen, it just makes sense to do this...It reflects our economic reality," he said. "I am going to do anything that's necessary to continue to publish these newspapers, to keep our newspapers in business, and this clearly allows us to do that."
With the addition of eight Sun-Times products, the Tribune’s facility will print 15 different products a day including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Investor's Business Daily.
The Tribune reported that Becky Brubaker, senior vice president of manufacturing and distribution for Chicago Tribune Media Group, said the additional work should put the plant near capacity and will require additional staffing to meet production demands. "We look forward to employees from there applying for positions here," she said.
It should be noted that the Sun-Times plant is unionized and the Tribune facility employs mostly non-union workers. Pressmen and drivers are represented by Teamsters Local 706 at both the Tribune and Sun-Times plants. Likewise, machinists at both facilities are members of the International Association of Machinists Local 126. However, electricians at the Sun-Times plant are members of IBEW Local 134, but electricians the Tribune are not. Similarly, Sun-Times mailers and operating engineers are represented by the CWA and the IUOE while comparable positions at the Tribune are non-union.
As union officers, plant closings are one the most painful issues we deal with. With the possibility of some union members moving to non-union shops, this situation, as painful as it is, may create an opportunity for these newspaper unions to stem the loss of the closing. Let’s hope so.
In Related News: According to a story in Editor & Publisher, The Forward, one of the American Jewish world’s leading most important newspapers has signed a commercial printing agreement with New York Daily News. With the July 22 English-language edition and the July 15-21 Yiddish-language edition, the Forward will begin producing its entire national press run on Daily News presses in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Daily News is a union shop represented by GCC/IBT Local 2N.