Plain Dealer: Tentative agreement reached

CLEVELAND - A tentative agreement has been reached between the Plain Dealer and the northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, said union leader Harlan Spector Friday.   

Over the phone, Spector told NewsChannel5 the six-year tentative agreement allows for provisions that will aid the nearly 60 employees to be laid off next year.  He also said the agreement will provide stronger health benefits and job protections for the employees who stay.

"It would also restore the pay cut we had taken," added Spector.

Spector said the layoffs announced earlier are not subject to negotiations.  He told NewsChannel5 the Plain Dealer will reduce the nearly 170 Guild members in the newsroom by about one-third.  However, Spector did say some jobs in the future will be protected.

Perhaps the biggest change to the agreement is between the Plain Dealer's print product and their web platform, Cleveland.com.    

"I think what the company was aiming to do was to make it easier for them to use information between the web and the paper," said Spector.

Spector said in the agreement, non-guild employees can be hired for Cleveland.com.  The paper will also now be allowed to use material from the website to fill the newspaper, all signs of a changing businesses said the union leader.

"We're disturbed about the way the business is going.  It's been very difficult for people and we know that, we know that people all over have it tough.  We're not feeling sorry for ourselves but this has been an industry in turmoil and uh ... you know we tried to get the best we could for people and now it's up for the people here to vote whether they want it or don't want it," said Spector. 

On another note, Spector said some of the employees to lose their jobs will be hired for Cleveland.com. 

The fate of the paper and whether or not it will go from a seven-day-a-week publication to three, Spector said, was not in the negotiations.  That decision is still up in the air.  Spector said it is anticipated this will happen because the Plain Dealer's parent company has done so with several other publications.

Union members are expected to vote on the agreement Tuesday, Dec. 11.

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