Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis (pictured center left) and most of the City Council have taken the unusual step of getting involved in a contract dispute between Gatehouse Media and the Peoria Newspaper Guild. That's the union representing newsroom workers at the Peoria Journal Star Newspaper. Ardis called on the corporation to stop cutting staff to preserve the paper as a community resource and watchdog. Union spokesman and newspaper columnist Phil Luciano (pictured center) says the bargaining unit for reporters and copy editors has shrunk from 120 to 66 over the last few years.
"And we don't understand how that makes for a better newspaper or a better value for the readers. I mean, it is certainly about our bargaining unit, of course, but the overarching effect is that it affects the paper that people buy and depend on."
Ten of the 11 Peoria City Council members also signed Ardis's letter to Gatehouse. Luciano says the Journal Star itself is making healthy profits, though the larger corporation is not. Luciano says the contract expired last August. The two sides meet again tomorrow for the first time in a month. The latest company demand is to outsource the circulation department. Journal star management has released a statement saying it will continue negotiating in good faith.
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