Composing room workers at the Daily News of Los Angeles, whose contract expires at midnight tonight, have voted to strike but have not set a deadline.
The Daily News, which also publishes Ventura County editions, says the positions have become obsolete because of a new computer pagination system that would eliminate the need for manual layout and composing work. The Woodland Hills-based newspaper plans to eliminate about 70 of the 83 composing room jobs.
The strike was approved Sunday at a special meeting of the Southern California Typographical Mailers Union Local 17, which represents 83 Daily News employees. Union President Gerry Curran said a deadline for the strike would probably be set within the next couple of days.
"We'll meet for more negotiations and see if they're willing to bargain," Curran said. "They haven't so far." Talks between the Daily News and the union have been ongoing since July.
The Daily News also has said its advertising makeup work will be subcontracted to an outside firm in Pennsylvania. These steps will dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to produce the newspaper, said Tom Burke, an attorney representing the Daily News.
The paper has set no date for the layoffs. But Burke said employees would be given 60 days' notice, as required under federal law. He said the paper also has agreed to extend their medical benefits for one month beyond that. The union scale salary for the composing room jobs is $653 a week.
"Technology has eliminated their jobs," Burke said. "Frankly, the union has not faced the issue in negotiations."
The newspaper's multimillionaire owner, Jack Kent Cooke, put the Daily News up for sale in May, but has yet to find a buyer. The paper has replaced most of its top management in the past few months.