The Chronicle's Guild members on Saturday voted 333 to 33 to accept steep concessions to their contract, including the layoffs of 150 workers, which Hearst said was necessary to keep the paper from being sold or closed.
"People realize that as bad as this settlement is, it did provide severance pay for a substantial number of people who will be leaving and hopefully keeps alive the company's ability to survive," Doug Cuthbertson, executive officer of the Guild, told the Mercury News.
The agreement was the first step in Hearst's effort to cut costs at the Chron. Now management will ask the Teamsters, the Chron's other major union, for concessions. Local 853 represents roughly 420 production workers and delivery truck drivers.
Hearst said the newspaper lost more than $50 million in 2008 and is on track to sink deeper into the red this year.
The Guild represents 218 editorial employees and 265 in advertising. If the Guild didn't agree to the new contract, Hearst threatened to lay off 225 employees in those departments instead of 150.
It has not been decided when the layoffs — which could reduce the Chronicle newsroom by a third or more — will take place, the Merc reported.
Links: Chronicle story, Mercury News, AP, Reuters, MarketWatch and the Guild's bulletin.