Publisher says Star-Ledger could be sold or closed by January

The Star-Ledger could be sold or closed by January if the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers Union doesn’t ratify a labor agreement by October 8, according to an internal e-mail from publisher George Arwady. Arwady says that the contract with the union, which represents about 90 drivers, is one of three conditions Advance Publications, the owner of the Star-Ledger, has established to keep the state’s largest newspaper in operation.

In July, Arwady said the Star-Ledger is on “life support” and that the paper could be sold if 200 employees don’t agree to buyouts by October 1, and if the paper doesn’t reach agreements with labor unions. Last week, Editor & Publisher said that Arwady told reporter Ron Marsico that the paper has not yet received the 100 news staff buyouts they need. Marsico is expected to take the buyout, and has reportedly accepted a job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which he has covered since 1982.

Read the Arwady e-mail:

To: All Star-Ledger Employees
From: George Arwady
Date: September 16, 2008
Re: Update

As I have previously told you, there are three conditions that must be met in order for The Star-Ledger to remain in business under its current ownership.

Although we are making progress toward meeting two of our three conditions (the Mailers have a ratification vote scheduled for September 22), we still are far from an agreement with the Drivers’ union.

Accordingly, since it is doubtful that the Drivers will ratify an agreement by October 8, 2008, we will be sending formal notices to all employees this week, as required by both federal and New Jersey law, advising you that the Company will be sold, or, failing that, that it will close operations on January 5, 2009.

It is most unfortunate that we have to send out this notice, but the Drivers have left us with no choice.

Publisher says Star-Ledger could be sold or closed by January