November 2, 2016

America’s business newspaper of record is cutting its staff today, part of an effort to streamline its newsroom during an industry-wide print advertising slump.

On the chopping block is The Journal’s Greater New York section, which is being folded into the paper’s broader coverage of New York.

Staffers on the Greater New York section were notified of the layoffs in an announcement from Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerry Baker, according to a memo from the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, the union representing Wall Street Journal workers. They were then summoned to meet with department heads.

Nineteen union-represented employees on the Greater New York Section could lose their jobs, according to the memo. It remains to be seen who will be hired, however — Politico reports that staffers will be asked to re-apply for one of 16 open positions.

The union plans to challenge the cuts, according to the memo:

The Union will fully investigate as soon as management delivers copies of layoff notices to the IAPE office. If there is any possibility that layoffs may be challenged through the grievance and arbitration process, grievances will be filed immediately.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is also undergoing a voluntary buyout program. So far, at least 48 employees have had their buyout offers accepted. Journal management has not said publicly how small the newsroom will become, though Baker described the buyout program as “substantial.”

The Wall Street Journal is not alone in shedding staff, with similar moves being undertaken by companies including The New York Times and Gannett.

For The Journal, the payroll cuts are an effort to right-size the newspaper amid gloomy financial news. A single source told Politico Tuesday that the News Corp.-owned paper was about 30 percent off its budget.

Here’s the full union memo:

Following a memo to staff from WSJ editor in chief Gerry Baker, Dow Jones representatives confirmed to IAPE that layoffs will begin today at the Wall Street Journal, beginning with staff on the Greater New York section.

In his memo, Mr. Baker announced, “Greater New York coverage will be reduced in size and will also move into the main section of the paper in the New York region.” Shortly afterward, GNY employees were summoned to meet with department heads.

If all GNY positions are eliminated, this first move by Dow Jones will result in 19 IAPE-represented employees losing their jobs through layoff. Other departments are scheduled to meet with management and HR today.

GNY staff have already been told by one manager, “the Union contract says that we do it this way…We close the group and post jobs.”

We disagree.

The Union will fully investigate as soon as management delivers copies of layoff notices to the IAPE office. If there is any possibility that layoffs may be challenged through the grievance and arbitration process, grievances will be filed immediately.

Today’s memo from Mr. Baker follows his announcement on October 21st of plans to offer buyouts to WSJ news staff.

According to Dow Jones reps, 48 IAPE-represented employees’ requests for buyouts were accepted. Whether any employees requested buyouts, but were rejected, or how many non-Union staff will depart as a result of these buyouts is unknown.

Meanwhile, the Union bargaining committee has continued to meet with Company officials in an attempt to negotiate a new contract. Both sides met again yesterday in South Brunswick.

The afternoon session began with off the record remarks as each side attempted to find ways to bridge the gaps between respective contract proposals. After moving back on the record, IAPE reps presented the Union’s 13th proposal package, meeting Dow Jones at 2% wage increases in each year of the agreement and accepting a previous Dow Jones proposal for an early termination option after each year of the contract.

IAPE also proposed a $1,000 lump-sum bonus payable to all Union-represented employees upon ratification of the contract, and a commitment for Dow Jones and IAPE to work together toward “an additional form of incentive compensation” based on verifiable Company benchmarks.

Dow Jones responded with a wages-only proposal – similar to its October 18th proposal – but with a reference to healthcare costs.

For employees in the United States, the Company has proposed a full extension of 2016 healthcare coverage into 2017 – with no premium increases or cost increases in any component of current plans. For employees in Canada, the latest proposal would see adoption of the new proposed coverage but with no premiums for 2017.

The net result would be a “true” 2% wage increase for all Union-represented employees – however, during earlier healthcare discussions, the Company indicated it only planned on increasing premiums for U.S. staff for employee + spouse and employee + family POS coverage, and employee + family CDHP coverage.

The Union has requested additional healthcare information from Dow Jones to determine the number of employees who would benefit under this proposal.

Dow Jones and IAPE reps are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Friday morning.

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Benjamin Mullin was formerly the managing editor of He also previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow,…
Benjamin Mullin

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