A few decades ago it would have been shocking to hear that Sun-Times Media Productions LLC has cut a deal to have the Chicago Tribune Media Group (CTMG) manage the printing and packaging of the Chicago Sun-Times and its seven co-owned suburban newspapers. But with joint operating agreements (JOAs) now widespread in major cities and many newspapers printing others in adjacent markets, it’s just another deal to cut costs in the struggling newspaper business.
As a result of the printing deal, some 400 people will lose their jobs as the Sun-Times printing plant shuts down in September. That facility, which cost $100 million, is only a dozen years old. The change is supposed to save the company about $10 million per year.
“This has been a very, very difficult decision. But in my role, I have got to do things that keep our newspapers in business,” said Jeremy Halbreich, chairman of Sun-Times Media LLC.
“The Sun-Times has been one of our most valued customers since 2007, when we struck our first distribution agreement with them,” said Becky Brubaker, senior vice president of manufacturing and distribution for Chicago Tribune Media Group. “In a rapidly changing, highly competitive media marketplace, these types of agreements benefit both companies as well as readers and advertisers across the metropolitan region.”
The unions whose workers are being laid off may not go away without a fight. According to the story in the Sun-Times at least one of the unions claims the outsourcing violates federal labor