Pressmen reject Philadelphia newspapers' contract offer

Another newspaper union, representing pressmen, voted overwhelmingly Monday against a contract offer from the prospective new owners of The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

The pressmen voted, 74-9, to turn down the offer, according to Joe Inemer, president of the Teamsters local that represents them.

The pressmen joined the papers' drivers and machinists in rejecting tentative contracts negotiated with Philadelphia Media Network Inc., which purchased The Inquirer, the Daily News, and the website Philly.com at a bankruptcy auction in April for $139 million.

Nine unions have approved contracts with the company.

Philadelphia Media Network, owned by 16 financial institutions, was scheduled to finalize its purchase of the media outlets Tuesday.

The purchase agreement gives the new ownership the right to walk away from the deal if it cannot reach contracts with all of its unions.

It was unclear Monday what Philadelphia Media Network might do, given the trouble it was having reaching contract agreements with the drivers, machinists, and pressmen.

Lawyers from the outgoing ownership and top executives for Philadelphia Media Network and their attorneys met privately for three hours with Chief Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich on Monday.

When the meeting ended, no one would speak to reporters about what transpired or whether further contract talks were planned. The parties were scheduled to be back before Raslavich at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

A contingent of labor leaders with the machinists also took part in the talks. Upon leaving, they would say only that they remained without a contract and that no new talks were scheduled.

John Laigaie, president of Teamsters Local 628, which represents the drivers, said he was still waiting to have a discussion with Robert J. Hall, Philadelphia Media's chief operating officer, about how to proceed.

No new talks were set, he said.


Contact staff writer Christopher K. Hepp at 215-854-2208 or chepp@phillynews.com.