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Guild to pressure KR for new Merc contract

With the Guild’s contract at the Mercury News expiring in June, national newspaper Guild President Linda Foley (pictured) is quoted by the L.A. Times today as saying she will attempt to pressure Knight Ridder into agreeing to a new contract for employees at the Mercury News and other unionized KR papers before they change hands.

She says that if likely buyer Media News retains a majority of the newspaper’s staff, the company would be obliged by labor laws to recognize the union.

“With MediaNews — known for its stringent cost-cutting — widely expected to reduce staff at the Mercury News and a union contract expiring in June, many employees at the San Jose paper are seeking jobs elsewhere, according to people at the paper,” said the LA Times story by reporters Joseph Menn and James Rainey.

The Times story leads off with what has been reported over the weekend by the Merc and Reuters, that a deal is near to sell the Merc, Contra Costa Times and other Knight Ridder properties in Northern California to MediaNews, headed by Dean Singleton. But the Times says MediaNews would only have a “controlling interest” in the KR papers, not sole ownership. The other prospective owners were not identified. “Singleton has been working with private-equity firms and newspaper companies, as he often does, in pursuit of Knight Ridder’s properties. It is unclear which partners he might take on in the pending acquisitions,” the story said. Media news hoped to complete the deal this week, “but a number of details remained to be ironed out late Wednesday, and sources familiar with the talks said a final agreement was not a certainty.”

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