Leaders of unions representintg more than 1.3 million Illinois public employees are urging the owners of the only daily newspaper in the state’s capitol city to settle the contract with their newsroom employees.

Newsroom employees represented by the United Media Guild have been bargaining for three years with Gatehouse Media, owner of the State Journal Register.

The letter below has been sent to the newspaper and to Gatehouse Media.

To the editor:

Since Abraham Lincoln’s time, Springfield residents have relied on local newspapers to provide information and insight about local and state matters.

Because Springfield is home to state office holders and their staffs, these newspapers had substantial influence on the debate of issues affecting all Illinoisans.

The State Journal-Register (SJR) is the last daily paper standing in Mr. Lincoln’s hometown and it is crucial the SJR remain viable, employing first-rate journalists and presenting high quality news and analysis.

To achieve that goal, there must be a fair settlement of the contract between Gatehouse Media, owner of the State Journal-Register, and newsroom employees represented by the United Media Guild.

For more than three years, the employees have been trying to negotiate a contract to allow the SJR to continue to publish a high quality newspaper and, over time, boost circulation to the point that reporter positions eliminated since Gatehouse bought the paper can be restored.

Many of these employees have logged decades of service to the SJR and its readers, remaining loyal despite Gatehouse’s elimination of the copy desk and other important newsroom positions.

We urge everyone who believes a great city deserves a great daily newspaper to call the publisher and insist that the SJR negotiate a fair contract with the newsroom employees.

Cinda Klickna
President, Illinois Education Association

Dan Montgomery
President, Illinois Federation of Teachers

Michael Carrigan
President, Illinois AFL-CIO

Pat Devaney
President, Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

Roberta Lynch
Executive Director, AFSCME Council 31

Sean Stott
Director of Governmental Affairs, Laborers’ Midwest Region

Alice Johnson
Executive Director, Illinois Nurses Association

Christine Boardman
President, SEIU Local 73

Sean Smoot
President, Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association

Mike Stout
Business Manager, Illinois State Employees Association