Having paid $650 million to buy Newsday two years ago, Cablevision is now finding it hard to stem the flow of red ink at the Long Island daily newspaper. Unionized workers turned thumbs down on a new contract that would have required them to take pay cuts.
The vote by members of Teamsters Union Local 406 was overwhelming. Only 139 votes were cast in favor of the contract, while 331 “no” votes were cast. As a result, Newsday’s union workers are now all working without a contract. Just what that might mean remains to be seen.
According to a union blog, workers don’t buy the claim by Cablevision that the newspaper is losing money, “although we concede it is not making a lot.” The statement from George Tedeschi, President of the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters, stated that when past concessions were given, “it was done with an attitude toward a partnership.” This time, he said, “that did not happen.”
The rejected contract would have required most workers to take pay cuts of 5% over the next three years, with the Transportation unit (the drivers who haul the papers each day) taking cuts of 10%. In addition, 15% of the drivers would have been laid off as routes were consolidated. Pressroom workers would have also given up attendance bonuses. Those concessions were less severe than those proposed in an earlier contract, which was also voted down back in January.
The union says it is ready to go back to the bargaining table to work on a new agreement. There’s no word yet on whether and when Cablevision will try for a third time to strike a deal.