The Boston Herald plans to lay off 130 to 160 employees this summer and outsource its printing to presses in Chicopee and Norwood.
Herald president and publisher Patrick J. Purcell announced the decision after meeting today with union leaders. The move is subject to a 90-day negotiation period; Purcell said he wants to devote three months to negotiating severance settlements with affected employees and hopes to move production off-site by the end of September. He also said the Herald had considered other options, including purchasing a new printing press or reconfiguing the existing press, which is 50 years old.
A Dow Jones Co. plant in Chicopee will print the paper every day except Friday, when a Norwood press owned by Boston Offset will produce it.
Characterizing this morning's union meetings as "somber," Purcell noted that rumors of the outsourcing arrangement had been in circulation for a year or so. The Boston Globe confirmed on Friday that it had met with Purcell but ultimately decided not to print the Herald.
In an interview at the Herald's office, Purcell said he doesn't expect the move to cause difficulty in getting late-breaking news and game scores into the newspaper. "There was some question about the impact of the distance [from Chicopee to Boston] on our delivery. There's a perception that this is going to be difficult, but by and large there aren't that many editions that will be negatively impacted by this move."
Purcell said he planned to meet with Herald staff members later today and with individual union representatives later this week to discuss the impact of today's announcements.