Detroit publisher says layoffs coming to Free Press

Detroit Free Press publisher Paul Anger told employees Tuesday he anticipated layoffs would be coming to the newspaper. The news, first reported by Steve Neavling at Motor City Muckraker, apparently came during a morning meeting to announce the departure of senior managing editor Jeff Taylor, who will become editor of the Indianapolis Star.

One Guild member who was at the meeting confirmed that account. Anger didn’t provide a timeframe for the layoffs or a sense of how many people might be affected. Lou Mleczko, president of the Detroit Newspaper Guild, said he heard a similar report of Anger’s statement from Guild employees who attended the meeting and said Anger’s statement was “a passing aside.” Mleczko says the union’s contract with the paper requires 30 days’ notice before layoffs are instituted, “and we have not received any notice from the company about layoffs as of today.”

I’ve left a message with Anger asking for comment.

The Free Press prints every day but home-delivers its papers only three days a week, a change that has led to some rough comparisons to the cuts in print frequency recently announced at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and other papers owned by Advance Publications. About 600 people were laid off at those papers Tuesday.

The Detroit Media Partnership, which operates the Free Press as well as The Detroit News, recently announced it would subcontract janitorial duties to an outside firm, displacing the company’s current janitors, who are also Guild members.

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