Bidders have until the end of the day Monday to challenge investor Jim Tyree’s $26.5 million offer for the Chicago Sun Times and 50 other newspapers, the rival Chicago Tribune notes (via Romenesko). The Sun Times’ union is watching closely, as Tyree has demanded strict union concessions in as part of his bid which so far represents the best hope for keeping the paper’s group intact.
While the Tribune Company, which like the Sun Times Media Group, is currently engaged in bankruptcy proceedings, has been rumored to be considering a bid, it’s unlikely to submit a formal offer. While the union likes the idea that Tyree intends to keep the group of newspapers whole and not liquidate it, the guild has also attempted to fight the concessions the investor has called for. The labor givebacks Tyree wants include a permanent 15 percent cut in compensation, freezing pension plans and tossing out work rules related to severance and seniority for editorial staffers. It’s doubtful that a buyer more palatable to the union will materialize. But if one less acceptable to the union comes forward, Tyree would be be in a better position to get the union on his side. An alliance between Tyree and the union would be a difficult hurdle for challenger.
The guild is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to accede to Tyree’s demands. So far, five editorial bargaining groups have rejected the concessions, while seven groups representing for the craft workers have accepted its terms. Meanwhile, four others have not yet voted. As for the Sun Times, on Thursday, it will take whatever bid it favors to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where the publisher filed for bankruptcy, for the judge’s approval.