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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette expected to lose $22M this year

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is projected to lose about $22 million this year and is looking to its unionized workers to fill the hole.

According to the Unity Council, which represents union locals for nearly 800 organized workers, the newspaper publisher is seeking $22 million in concessions in its contract proposals.

A Unity Council message to members said the amount matches the Post-Gazette's projected loss for 2013.

Tracey DeAngelo, Post-Gazette marketing director, declined to comment.

The Post-Gazette, which is owned by Toledo, Ohio-based Block Communications Inc., said in late March it intends to acquire a state-of-the-art printing press and might vacate the operation Downtown for another location.

The newspaper said in a story on March 28 that management wants ”appropriate modifications to the company's labor contracts that will justify the investment.”

It was not clear how much the new equipment would cost or where the Post-Gazette might move the newspaper operation.

No labor contract negotiations have been scheduled. Employees are working under a three-month extension of a three-year contract that expired at the end of March.

“There's miles to go yet. This is all preliminary,” said Joseph Pass, attorney for the Unity Council. “But I'm not too concerned about it because they are not getting this ($22 million) anyway.”

Post-Gazette management wants to cut a host of benefits from its nearly 200 unionized newsroom workers, said the Unity Council's message to members.

For instance, management wants to eliminate company-paid dental and vision insurance, personal days off and a fifth week of vacation.

Other unions, which cover nearly 600 typographical, trucking and other workers, “stand to lose a significant — though not yet calculated — number of jobs,” said the council's message.

“There would be job cuts in there as a result of automation, I'm sure,” said Pass of the printing press plans.

The opening contract offer to the council, however, does not seek to reduce newsroom jobs, the message said.

Thomas Olson is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or tolson@tribweb.com.

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