The Blade plans to close the production section of its building in downtown Toledo later this year, said Stephen B. Spolar, vice president of human resources and labor relations for Block Communications Inc., which owns The Blade.
The newspaper also plans to close its mailing facility on Water Street in Toledo. The closures would mean the permanent loss of 131 jobs, Mr. Spolar said.
The decision by The Blade was stated in a Workforce Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice filed Friday with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Copies of the notice were sent to Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, Lucas County officials, and union officials representing the newspaper‘s affected workers.
Layoffs, according to the notice, would begin on or about Aug. 1.
The notice generated some initial confusion. In a letter contained in the notice, Mr. Spolar stated that the entire Blade building was to be closed, which not only would affect the production elements, but also would displace the news gathering, advertising, and circulation operations.
“The Toledo Blade has developed plans to close its facility located at 541 North Superior Street, Toledo, OH 43660. The entire facility will be closed, and it presently is anticipated that this shutdown will be permanent,” the letter read. The Blade has operated out of the Superior Street building since May 1, 1927.
However, Mr. Spolar said Friday in an interview with The Blade that he did not mean to imply that the entire building would be closed.
“It’s the production facility that is in question. Advertising and the newsroom — we’re not getting out of that business,” he said.
Mr. Spolar would not comment on where The Blade would be printed.
The Blade has met in labor negotiations with the affected production unions and discussed the possibility of moving production from The Blade building and the Water Street facility after the current labor contracts expire.
Those contracts expire today.
A federal law regarding large layoffs requires employers to provide employees with 60 days notice about job cuts, which is what this week’s notice to the affected workers did.
“As we told the unions, we are looking to move the production facility on North Superior and the mailing inserting operation on Water Street,” Mr. Spolar said.
“We had told the unions in a May 7 meeting that we were looking to get this done by Aug. 1 so we had to get this [WARN] notice done [Friday],” he added. “But as the notice points out, various factors may impact this, including bargaining with the production units.”
The letter was sent to representatives of seven union bargaining units at The Blade.
Molly Rogers, vice president and treasurer of the Toledo Joint Council of Newspaper Unions, an umbrella organization that covers the seven unions at The Blade, said that on the advice of its attorney, the council would not comment on the WARN notice.
In a recent letter to employees, Blade officials said the newspaper “has been losing money for many years, with losses exceeding $8.5 million in 2013.”
The Toledo Newspaper Guild, which represents the news, advertising, business, information technology, and circulation aspects of The Blade, is not part of the council.
Journalists who gather and edit the news, the advertising sales staff, and the circulation department are not directly affected by the notice.
Contact Jon Chavez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6128.