Contract negotiations begin in Rockford

The United Media Guild is starting negotiations for a first contract for newsroom employees at the Rockford Register Star and the Freeport Journal-Standard.

The first session is scheduled for Oct. 1. UMG business representative Shannon Duffy will be our lead negotiator. Unit char Melissa Westphal and vice chair Max Gersh will join him at the bargaining table.

The contract talks come at a critical time for these newspapers. GateHouse hopes to shed its onerous debt through prepackaged bankruptcy, then merge these newspapers into a new company also featuring properties from the old Dow Jones chain.

This new company would then look to buy similar properties while following the GateHouse emphasis on cost-cutting and digital advertising/marketing growth. Journalists in Rockford and Freeport must fight to gain fair compensation and protect the quality of their work in this fluid environment.

UMG president Jeff Gordon will be in Rockford this weekend to meet with the negotiating committee Saturday and other members of our new unit Sunday.

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