Times' Books Show Condition 'Serious'

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An economist who has reviewed the financial condition of the Seattle Times - peeking into its books on behalf of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild - has confirmed what Seattle's likely last major daily newspaper has claimed: it has to cut more costs to survive. Eliminating 500 jobs last year didn't do the trick.

Teamsters Union economist Doug Henderson reviewed income summary statements from the Times for the fiscal years 2005 through 2008, and the projections for years 2009 to 2012. There was bleeding everywhere. "The Times' current cost containment program has attempted to reduce some of the financial pressures, but its current financial status is still serious," Henderson said in his report, according to the Guild. "The Company needs to consider either selling off some operations or shutter some. However, with the economic climate being in utter chaos the opportunity to sell any type of operation is very slim." (See: Seattle P-I).

Guild employees yesterday approved a two-year freeze of their Times pensions, part of a 12 percent reduction in pay and benefits sought by the Times to reverse its upside-down finances. The vote freezes the pension retroactively, to Oct. 1, 2008, and makes up about 8 percent of cuts sought from union members. The Times' assorted unions meet with management Monday to discuss reciprocal concessions sought from the paper. They include a common expiration date for all union contracts and periodic reviews of the Times' books.

 
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