Joe L. Allbritton ordered his name removed as publisher from the Washington Star's editorial masthead Monday, but officials at the Star declined to comment on the significance of the move.
Star executives declined to comment on reports that Allbritton called the newspaper at 5 a.m. Monday and ordered his name removed. Tuesday's editions also failed to identify anyone as publisher of the newspaper. Asked about the delection, Star editor James G. Bellows said, "ask Mr. Allbritton."
Allbritton's secretary says he is "out of town, in transit, unreachable."
Previously, the editorial page masthead identified Allbritton as publisher of the Star. His name still appears in a box that normally appers on page two in which he is identified as chairman of the board of the Washington Star Newspaper Co.
One source who declined to be named, suggested there might be some connection between the disappearance of Allbritton's name form the masthead and labor negotiations.
The Star is now trying to persuade its employees to go another year without a wage increase, according to union source.
When Allbritton took full control of the Star early in 1976 he asked his 1,700 union employees to accept 200 layoffs and a wage freeze. Only the printers union failed to agree.
The printers were the only union employees with a contract in effect at the time and they refused to forego the contractual raises due them.
Now, according to union sources, Allbritton is trying to get the other unions at the Star to forego raises until 1978. He is said to be offering a $15 a week raise to employees at top pay scales in 1978 and an additional $20 an week in 1979.
Because of a Federal Communications Commission regulation against new cross-ownership of media in a single market area Allbritton is required to sell the Star newspaper or WMAL-TV, which he also owns, by Jan. 30, 1979. WMAL radio's sale to the Ameridan Broadcasting Co. becomes final next month.
Allbirtton has paid that he intended to keep the newspaper if it were financially feasible, but that he could not continue to run it at a loss.
The Star has cut its losses, which a year ago were running at about a million dollars a month, but they are still believed to be substantial.