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Advance CEO Caroline Harrison. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Star-Ledger owners bust CWA union at their Cleveland newspaper

Union says Advance choose to ‘systematically squeeze’ Plain Dealer union ‘out of existence’

By David Wildstein, May 13 2020 10:24 am

The mega corporation that owns the Star-Ledger has busted an 80-year-old union at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which will lay off their last four reporters on Thursday and shift them to jobs at Cleveland.com, their non-unionized online news site.

Journalists at the Cleveland Plain Dealer are members of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild Local 1, which is part of the Communications Workers of America.

“The company started down this road in 2013 with this clear end goal – to get rid of the union,” the union said in a statement.  “It chose to systematically squeeze the Guild out of existence.  It was excruciating for those laid off over the past year and our members who remained to be kept in limbo.”

Star-Ledger reporters are not unionized, but the newspaper does have contracts with four production unions associated with the Teamsters.

Advance Publications, which owns the Star-Ledger, the Plain Dealer and other major U.S. newspapers, is the 47th largest privately-held company in the United States.  Conde Nast, the Discovery Channel, Reddit, and dozens of daily newspapers across the nation are just part of their portfolio.  Forbes estimates Advance’s annual revenue to be $6.25 billion.

The Plain Dealer announced the layoffs of 18 of their remaining 32 reporters in March, and then kept going.  Seven years ago, the newspaper had an editorial staff of 168.

Advance CEO Caroline Harrison told Poynter that her company remains committed to providing local news.

“Whether or not our newsroom employees are represented by unions, we have used a similar approach to fulfill this commitment,” Harrison said.

Also in March, Advance announced an all-cash deal to buy the Beijing-based Ironman group for $730 million.  One week before that, Advance announced a $200 million investment in Scopely, a “fast-growing mobile games space” that allows you to play Wheel of Fortune on your smart phone.

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