The chief negotiator for The New York Times and Daily News said yesterday progress was made in talks with the newspaper deliverers union, but indicated a strike at one or both of the papers still was a strong possibility.
H.J. Kracke, executive director of the Publishers Association of New York, which is negotiating for the two morning dailies, said "we made progress" before the meeting adjourned at 4 a.m. yesterday.
He said a settlement of the contract dispute between the papers and the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers Union of New York before the current pact expires at 12:01 a.m. today was "possible . . . but I wouldn't say it was likely."
The union, representing truck deliverers has voted to authorize a strike against The Times, News and the Post, but the News is the only paper definitely faced with the possibility of a midnight walkout today by its drivers.
The union has offered to bargain past the expiration date with the Times and Post, but the Times has pledged its "full support" of the News.Exactly what form that support would take is not known. Times officials were not immediately available for comment.
The Post has been bargaining separately with the deliverers.
Meanwhile, labor negotiators have drawn a cloak of secrecy around contract talks aimed at averting a transit strike that could cripple a city already limping along on austerity budgets and federal help.
While service on private bus lines and some commuter railroads would be available, a strike by the transit unions at midnight today would cost untold millions of dollars in police overtime for traffic duty and even more in lost manhours.
A preliminary injunction barring a transit strike was issued yesterday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. But indications were that the order, based on the state's Taylor Law banning public employe strikes, would be ignored under a union policy of "no contract, no work."
A news blackout on the transit negotiations was declared Wednesday by chief mediator Samuel Pierce Jr. after Mayor Edward Koch commented that the mediators "were not retained to hold press conferences."
After reporting limited progress earlier in the week, Pierce refused to discuss progress and described the parties as "a long way from a settlement."
Matthew Guinan, president of the principal union involved, said: "We have made no progress whatever in the negotiations."
Other talks were going on to prevent a walkout today at the Long Island Rail Road, which provides the main commuter service for populous suburbs to the east.