Guild to seek voice in MediaNews debt plan
National coalition retains legal counsel
16 Jan 2010
Guild MediaNews Council
Editor's Note: A national coalition of Guild units representing MediaNews workers in California, Minnesota, Colorado and Michigan gathered Saturday in San Francisco issued a statement about the MediaNews Group's announced debt reorganization and planned bankruptcy filing. The Guild said legal counsel is working to ensure employees are represented in the process, adding that the union intends a constructive approach.
Here is the statement issued on Saturday:
By now you've all seen the news that MediaNews has, in consultation with its lenders, created a “prepackaged” bankruptcy filing for its holding company, Affiliated Media Inc. That means instead of filing and then dealing with the debt afterward, there is already a plan to address the debts owed to creditors.
The company has said that daily newspaper operations will not be affected, and employees will continue to receive pay and benefits as usual. At this point, we have no reason to disbelieve these statements.
That said, we are taking the situation very seriously, seeking research and resources from the highest level of the Guild – and plan to hold the company to its promises. We have retained legal counsel with expertise in bankruptcy proceedings and will take all necessary steps to ensure our voice is heard and the interests of our members and retirees are protected.
Earlier this week our Newspaper Guild staff began pulling together research and resources on restructuring scenarios. Carol Rothman, the Guild's secretary-treasurer, has made herself available to run through various scenarios related to the debt restructuring and to answer questions about what might happen next.
“The Guild, with help from CWA, has been proactive in addressing bankruptcies in our industry. Being named to the creditors’ committee in five cases is one example. We must get our members, locals and contracts through to the other end of this process, with some confidence that they can influence the results,” Rothman said.
It’s important to note that, unlike many of the high-profile media company bankruptcies, the company that operates our papers is not planning to file for bankruptcy reorganization. Rather, the MediaNews holding company -- Affiliated Media Inc. – is filing. In general, a holding company controls a company’s stock and oversees top management but does not run day-to-day operations. According to the company’s statements, the debt to be restructured is related largely to past purchases of newspapers, not bills to local vendors at individual properties.
Union leaders from MediaNews papers around the nation are meeting this weekend in San Francisco to discuss this news, its consequences, and general bargaining issues. It’s no secret that MediaNews has struggled mightily over this past year to make debt payments, with many layoffs and cuts as a result. We are heartened by management’s portrayal of this debt reorganization as a change for the better – and are prepared to work together to rebuild our industry.
If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your stewards or local representatives. We will pass along any news or details as soon as we have them.