Trouble in Philadelphia Newspaper Paradise

In traditional union style, the employees of the Inquirer and the Daily News are up in arms over the newspaper's new management and ownership. Their demands? The usual: Permanent pensions despite company fiscal performance and seniority privileges for long-time employees regardless of job performance. From the list of demands:

Seniority. As with most labor unions, the current Guild contract calls for workers with more experience at the company to be protected in case jobs are cut for economic reasons. After a drop in national advertising, the newspapers are considering as many as 190 layoffs company-wide, and they have floated the possibility of up to 150 job cuts in the Inquirer newsroom. The company wants wider latitude in being able to pick who goes; the union says the company has not developed any objective alternative system for choosing who would keep their jobs.

Pensions. Current Guild employees qualify for pensions equal to 1.6 percent of their yearly pay for each year served, within certain limits. While that is less than what teachers and many other public-sector employees earn, Tierney says the pension liability is more than the company can afford at a time when other companies are shifting from traditional pensions to 401(k) plans and other retirement arrangements whose costs are less expensive and easier to predict. The union says the company has not proposed an alternative of comparable value.

If they don't get what they're demanding, then they're threatening to strike. The current publisher plans to continue operating the paper with non-union work. The site that will host the news from the picketing journalists in that event is here.They appear to think they are working in the public sector. They also appear to think they are entitled to their jobs. How quaint. Maybe they should look at who signs their checks, and after that, the declining revenues of their shrinking industry.

Not that journalists would want to be bothered with details like business or profit margins.