At his first meeting today with leaders of the New York Daily News' unions, Joe L. Allbritton said he wants the unions to make a series of concessions that would yield savings of $85 million annually.
Allbritton told union bosses that he must get the concessions or he will not go through with the tentative offer he made last week to buy the tabloid.
Included on the list of demands presented to the 11 unions are elimination of 1,600 jobs or the equivalent, a wage freeze, a 5-year extension of the existing union contracts, an end to guaranteed overtime and what amounted to a no-strike pledge.
Negotiations with the unions will end April 25 "one way or the other," said Allbritton, adding, "No extensions are possible; none will be asked for."
Allbritton's offer to buy the News from the Tribune Co. of Chicago was contingent on his getting the unions to agree to cutbacks.
A former owner of The Washington Star who is chairman of Riggs National Bank, Allbritton disclosed his demands in a press release issued after today's meeting. Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
Describing himself as "the buyer of last resort," Allbritton said: "Layoffs are essential and they cannot in every instance be made on the basis of seniority alone."
The News has 3,800 full-time employes. Overtime pay and pay to part-time employes give the newspaper the equivalent of 5,000 on the payroll.
George McDonald, president of the umbrella Allied Printing Trade Council, refused to comment on Allbritton's remarks.
"His statement speaks for itself," McDonald said.