Holiday greetings were hollow for 35 Mercury News workers who were laid off Monday and Tuesday in the first major cost-cutting move by new owner Dean Singleton of MediaNews Group. “It’s pretty grim,” reporter and local Guild president Becky Bartindale told the Chronicle. “These are your colleagues and friends and they’re out the door.” It could have been worse. A 20-hour negotiating session reduced the number of layoffs from 69 to 35 in return for concessions from the union on benefits. Going forward, workers will pay more for their insurance under a new health plan. The agreement still must be ratified by the Guild’s remaining 450 workers. The number of newsroom positions cut was in dispute, with the Guild saying 16 workers were eliminated while the company saying the number was 10. (Photo credit: Paul Sakuma of AP.)

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