Philly papers to lose 37 positions through buyouts, layoffs

MediaWire Memo
Philadelphia Media Network executives announced at a meeting with Guild leaders today that they will reduce the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com by 37 positions. The company will offer buyouts first, and then begin layoffs if necessary. The three separate newsrooms are expected to merge when they move into their new location, scheduled for June. Poynter’s Rick Edmonds told Andrew Beaujon earlier today that layoffs before a sale are “relatively common”: “Basically, the idea is if there’s unfinished business to be done, the entity on the way out does some of that rather than sticking it to the new owners.” || Read the Guild letter about layoffs below. || Timeline: Philadelphia newspapers have five owners in six years || Related: Sale of Philly papers will test whether local owners can stay out of the newsroom | Philly papers will likely be sold to group led by former Governor Ed Rendell in closed bidding process | At least three stories about Philly newspapers sale killed by management

Dear Guild member,

This afternoon Guild leaders met with Philadelphia Media Network officials including the editors of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com to hear the company’s plans for “One Newsroom.”

These plans include the devastating reduction in force of 37 positions.

The company identified that its combined newsroom functions could result in layoffs in the following classifications:  Reporters, Writing Reporters, Rewrite, News Artists, Photographers, Photo Printers, Copy Editors/Readers, Make-Up Persons, Desk Assistants, Cartoonists, Editorial Writers, Editorial Clerks and Philly.com Multi Media Content Producers.

Before any individuals would be targeted for layoff, the company is first instituting a Voluntary Separation Program. Details of the buyout package will be distributed soon by Human Resources. The more members who step up for voluntary buyouts, the less involuntary newsroom layoffs there will be.

The buyout window is open from Feb. 16, 2012 to Feb. 29, 2012. On March 1, 2012 PMN will notify the Guild of any members who have been targeted for layoff in any category. As per our contract layoffs in any category would be handled by seniority with the least senior person being first affected. In most cases, part-time employees would be laid-off before the dismissal of full-timers in their group.

The last day of work for either volunteers or those laid off would be March 31, 2012.

The company’s decision to decimate our already-shrunken ranks is hard to comprehend given the ever-competitive 24/7 nature of today’s media landscape.

However, PMN has the contractual right to reduce the work force, and the Guild will work to make sure any job eliminations are conducted in accordance with our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If you plan to apply for the voluntary separation program, you are to do so through Human Resources, but please first contact Guild Executive Director Bill Ross at the Guild office 215-928-0118, cell 267-240-8540 or BRoss@local-10.com.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

In solidarity,

Dan Gross, President,
Bill Ross, Executive Director,
and the Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America Local 38010

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