The Washington Star's pressmen voted Sunday to approve a three-year contract calling for no raise in pay this and a $20 increase in both 1978 and 1979.
The ratification by the pressmen left only the Star's photoengravers without an approved contract. The approximately 30 members of the Graphic Arts International Local 285 working at The Star have twice refused to ratify a contract submitted to them by their leadership. One informated source predicted, however, that the photoengravers would approve essentially the same contract ratified by the other unions at The Star.
Assuming approval by the photengravers, The Star will have no union negotiations to conduct for three years.
A front-page article in yesterday's editions of The Star reported that board chairman Joe L. Allbritton praised the agreement between the Star and the union. The article quoted Allbritton as being critical of the "unfair and certainly unfounded" speculative news stories recently about troubles at The Star."
The article quoted Allbritton as saying: "My commitment to this newspaper and all its employee is substantial and real, and it has been consistent since I arrived in this city more than three years ago."
Steve Richard, a spokesman for The Star, declined to say where the speculative news stories had appeared or to answer any questions concerning the contract settlements at The Star. Richard said The Star would have "no further comment."
The package approved by the pressmen, according to The Star, would increase company contributions to the health and welfare benefits to maintain the opresent coverage up to a maximum of $3.50 per member during the agreement. The package would also grant a $20 a week increase on Jan. 1, 1978 and Jan 1, 1979.
The article also quotes Star executive Vice President James Daly as saying that company projections "show that The Star is on an upward trend."
Star losses have been estimated by industry sources at about $500,000 a month. According to one union source, however, an adult of The Star's financial condition prepared by an accounting firm hired by the unions projected The Star to be making a profit by next January.
One of the features of the new contract, according to The Star, is to established an employee cash bonus incentive program of not more than 10 per cent of before-tax profits "at the point of company profitability."
An analysis of the The Star's circulation over the last five years shows that the paper reached a high of about 416,000 daily circulation in September, 1972, shortly after The Star bought the Washington Daily News. By September, 1974, daily circulation had declined to 379,599. A year later, the daily circulation was 353,000. Last September.The Star reported a daily circulation of 385,240 and Sunday circulation of 374,267.The Washington Post, in an interim circulation statement as of Dec. 31, 1976, had a daily circulation of 560,249 and a Sundau circulation of 765,143.
Allbritton's purchase of The Star was approved by The Star's stockholders Sept. 24, 1974.
The Star's advertising lingeage, after declining in 1975, was slightly higher in 1976 than it was in 1974, 39,846,245 in 1975 and 42,194,333 lines in 1976, according to Media Records, an independent advertising measuring service. The Star's current share of newspaper advertising market in the metropolitan area is 33.8 per cent.
Under an order from the Federal Communications Commission, Allbritton last year sold WMAL-AM and WMAL-FM to the American Broadcasting Company for $16 million. Allbritton is required by the FCC edict to sell either The Star or WMAL-TV, which he has moved to change to WJLA-TV, by Hanuary, 1979.
ABC assumed control of its newly-purchased radio stations last Friday. Andrew M. Ockershausen, who retains his position as executive vice president of the stations, said yesterday there have been and will be no changes. "You don't screw with," Ockershausen said.