Two unions still holding up sale of Philadelphia papers

    A bankruptcy judge has given the winners of April’s auction until Tuesday to strike deals with unions. Without new contracts, the sale can’t be finalized.

    Philadelphia Media Network’s purchase of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and the website is still not a done deal. The group’s offer at an April bankruptcy auction hinges on labor agreements. Now that the papers’ pressmen voted to accept a contract, it leaves the potential new owners waiting on two unions.

    Media Network’s Chief Operating Officer Bob Hall says a lot of things could happen if the all the machinists and drivers do not ratify deals by Tuesday – when the parties are expected to appear in court to try to finish buying the papers.

    “If we’re not closed on the contracts then there will be a hearing in the court to determine what happens. It would not be very good results in my opinion. There’s a lot of dire, as the judge put it in the courtroom, there are dire consequences for this transaction not closing which could be anywhere from the two newspapers going out of business to some other legal consequences. So it’s an unknown at this point. But it’s very scary.”

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    The company was scheduled to close on the deal last month, but a bankruptcy judge granted a two-week extension because of the unresolved union contracts.

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