Providence Journal guild willing to discuss alternatives to layoffs

WPRI | Rhode Island Public Radio
Staffers at the A.H. Belo-owned Providence (R.I.) Journal have until Monday at 5 p.m. ET to volunteer to take buyouts, which the paper said it would seek on Sept. 7. Belo hasn’t said how many buyouts it’s looking for, but Ted Nesi reports that the Providence Newspaper Guild sent management a letter Friday asking “for a chance to discuss other ways of saving money before the company moves forward with layoffs.”

Guild President John Hill told Nesi that “we want to see if there’s something we can do,” even though the paper and the Guild have a contract in force.

Hill noted that the Journal’s union is the only Newspaper Guild local in New England where workers haven’t taken a pay cut since 2008. “We dodged that then,” he said, though other cuts were made. Furloughs and temporary pay cuts “are the obvious places where you can get the most bang for your buck, but again, that will be up to the membership.”

The Guild says it’ll discuss possible concessions with members before it makes any offers. Ian Donnis excerpts a letter the Guild sent to members, which contains a slight tinge of optimism:

It’s easy to think the depression-like conditions we’ve been living under for the past four years will be permanent, but they won’t be. The national economy has slowly, excruciatingly slowly, been climbing out of the hole dug in 2008. In another year it may well have produced a tide high enough to float this boat. Our mission, as the people who work here, the people who make this newspaper a humane institution, is to make sure that when that day comes, we have a boat worth floating.

Last week, representatives of Interstate General Media, which owns The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily news, asked its Guild to consider concessions in its contract, which expires next October. The Guild told IGM that if it’s able to “reach contracts with the other 9 unions who represent employees who produce and deliver the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, we will have further discussions with the company at that time.”

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