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Union leader: Proposed Newsday contract 'unacceptable'

The main Newsday building facing Pinelawn Road in

The main Newsday building facing Pinelawn Road in Melville. Credit: Newsday File / Andreas C. Constantinou / 2007

As 1,100 unionized Newsday employees prepared to vote on a new contract that sought 10-15 percent wage cuts, more work hours and reduced vacation, an official of the union's international parent ordered a delay on the vote because of contract terms he called "unacceptable."

Leaders of the union, Local 406 of the Graphic Communication Conference, had been negotiating the contract with Newsday management since early last month. At a sometimes raucous meeting in Newsday's Melville headquarters with workers on Tuesday, Local 406 president Michael O'Connor said while he was dissatisfied with the proposed contract, he believed it was the best workers could get. Many at the meeting disagreed.

O'Connor based the assessment on losses at Newsday he was told amounted to $7 million, expectations of lower ad revenue in the foreseeable future, and depletion of a reserve Newsday operating fund.

Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams, in a statement, said, "We worked closely with our union partners to reach an agreement that would help maintain Newsday as a strong and viable company. We are hopeful that this agreement will be ratified."

George Tedeschi, president of the Graphic Communication International and vice president at large of the Teamsters, ordered the planned Jan. 10 vote on the contract postponed. In an interview Wednesday, Tedeschi took aim at the contract and Newsday's owner, Cablevision, and said he'll meet with the local union officials next Thursday to "explain the reasons why I think the agreement is substandard," he said.

Several newspapers have had to endure pay cuts recently as the industry contracted. Under the threat of a shutdown of its Boston Globe newspaper last year, for example, owner New York Times Co. reached an agreement with the Newspaper Guild union that included a total wage cut of just under 8 percent.

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