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June 1, 2009 | last updated November 30, 2011 11:50 pm

Blethen's unions line up behind Connor

The unions representing the 500 employees at Blethen Maine Newspapers are accepting concessions that will allow the sale of the company to Richard Connor's investment group MaineToday Media Inc.

The Portland Newspaper Guild, the largest union in the company with 300 members, on Friday voted to accept concessions, including a 10% pay cut, a two-year wage freeze and a suspension of both 401(k) and pension contributions. Tom Bell, president of the guild, also said "significant layoffs" are expected, but he was confident the majority would happen through buyouts. Companywide, Connor has said as many as 100 layoffs are possible, according to the Kennebec Journal.

In addition, the Portland Typographical Union, which represents production workers; the Graphic Communications International Union, which represents press workers at the newspaper's South Portland plant; and the Communication Workers of America, which represents 85 workers at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, have all voted to accept similar concessions, though the details of those contracts were not available, the Portland Press Herald reported.

In exchange for the Portland Newspaper Guild's concession, union members will receive 15% ownership in the new company and two seats on the board of directors, according to Bell. "These concessions represent our contribution to the company," Bell said at a press conference Friday.

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