Michael Amon

Talks temporarily halted

Newsday and Local 406 halted direct talks Thursday after what one union officer described as a “spirited” discussion over financial information released by management.

The weather also appeared to play a role in temporarily suspending the face-to-face sessions, as international president George Tedeschi feared being snowed into New York. He lives in the Washington area.

No new session has been scheduled but they’re talking about starting up again on March 5.

There was some conflicting information out there that I’m trying to clear up. This AP article says Newsday lost $2 million in 2009. But union officers said Newsday managers claimed a $12 million loss in talks.

The $2 to $12 million in losses isn’t the whole story though.

The company had $21.8 million in positive net cash flow – a healthy number that, as we’ve pointed out below, is how Cablevision says it measures performance.

The “loss” comes when you include $34 million in depreciation and amortization costs. Much of this includes one-time charges like $4 million for the web site re-launch, $1.2 million in severances packages to executives like Tim Knight (not all to him) and a previously undisclosed $5 to $6 million for the closing of the Paterson Building.

The financial information that Newsday turned over to Teamster economist Jim Kimball wasn’t everything he asked for. Union officers said they hope that information will be made available before March 5.

The two sides have not exchanged proposals for a new contract yet as they try to sort out Newsday’s true financial condition.

Meanwhile, Cablevision is doing fine. Its net profit was $285 million in 2009.

Update: I think I figured out the discrepancy in the $2 million and $12 million figures. The $2 million loss was for the 4th quarter. That was confusing for a simple reason: the 4th quarter is normally our best, and the company had told union officers they expected to make a profit in the last three months of 2009. And they did, to the tune of about $3.4 million. But they decided to count the closure of the Patterson Building as a $5 or $6 million loss, putting the paper in the red for the quarter.

One Response

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  1. gklogan said, on February 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    First, Tedeschi wasn’t on top of the negotiations that took place in December and got involved after the fact. Then, new talks were delayed because of his travel problems. Now, talks are stalled because he’s worried about getting snowed in again. We’re barely a month from the end of the contract. Perhaps Tedeschi should use some of our union dues for a hotel room on Long Island so talks may continue with some sense of urgency regarding the future of our union.


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