The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

JRC Chapter 11 part 2


September 14, 2012
NewsGuild-CWA was named one of five members, and co-chair, of the creditors’ committee as the Journal Register Company bankruptcy proceeded Thursday with an initial hearing in New York City.

The Guild is represented on the committee by Philadelphia Newspaper Guild Executive Director Bill Ross, who’s becoming a bit of an expert on corporate bankruptcies.

Ross served on the creditors’ committee three years ago when the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News filed for bankruptcy. Ironically, that happened just after JRC filed for its first bankruptcy, in February 2009.

“It’s our third time around,” Ross said. “We’ve had some real experience with Chapter 11.”

That experience means Ross knows that much more about protecting Guild members, who work at seven JRC papers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Guild units at all but two of the papers are in the midst of contract negotiations.

In the previous bankruptcy, JRC didn’t move to throw out the Guild contracts, and Ross is “cautiously optimistic” that the same will be true this time.


NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said having Ross on the committee is crucial to protecting members’ interests. “We have to be proactive – we can’t assume that anyone else will look out for our best interests in this process. But with Bill there, we know we’ve got someone in our corner.”

Although the company in 2009 withdrew from the Guild pension plan at the Pottstown Mercury, the union was able to negotiate the same amount of money from the company in the form of 401(k) contributions.

The PBGC, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., is another creditor on the committee, and the other co-chair. Three vendors comprise the rest of the group.

Ross said the creditors, and the financial advisor and lawyers they hired to represent them as a group, will meet weekly by telephone. Under bankruptcy law, JRC is responsible for the committee’s legal and financial services bills.