Filing requires buyer to honor Pioneer Press contracts

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In a filing with federal regulatory officials, MediaNews Group and Hearst Corp. will be required to assume union contracts at newspapers acquired from McClatchy Co., including the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The requirement was contained in an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA), said the filing was good news.

“This will ensure that quality journalism and quality service to the communities that rely on their local newspapers will not be interrupted,” Foley said. “The concerns raised by employees, citizens and leaders about these newspapers apparently were heard and heeded by these newspaper companies.”

The contract covering newspaper workers at the San Jose Mercury News expires June 30 but a provision in the contract keeps it in force while negotiations continue. The contract at the Monterey Herald expired last November but also remains in force while the parties continue negotiations. The St. Paul Pioneer Press contract expires in 2007.

Luther Jackson, executive officer of the San Jose Newspaper Guild, said continuation of the contract was very important to maintaining the quality and diversity of local coverage that citizens of San Jose deserve. He noted that the SEC filing also indicates that McClatchy and Hearst will continue to employ all workers who are employed when the sale closes.

Jack Sullivan, secretary-treasurer of the Pioneer Press unit of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union, said “our contracts ensure the continued strength of our workforce – and our newspaper. We are very glad MediaNews is apparently committed to honoring them. With a strong and talented workforce, the Pioneer Press can keep serving its readers with aggressive, creative journalism and giving its advertisers great customer service.”

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