The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Inquirer Buyouts/Layoffs Details May 28, 2019

In case you dialed in to listen to last week’s meetings and couldn’t hear very well, or missed the meetings entirely, here’s a summary of what you need to know about the Company’s buyout/layoff program.
1) Buyouts are only offered to Guild members in the newsroom, advertising, finance and IT.
2) To be eligible, newsroom employees must be at least 55 and with the company 20 or more years; advertising, finance and IT employees must be at least 50 and with the company 10 or more years. A total of 117 Guild members are eligible for the buyout.
3) The deadline for all buyout applications is June 10.
4) The company will decide whether to accept or reject a buyout applicant by June 12.
5) The required departure date is June 14. (In some cases, people might be allowed to stay until June 30.)
6) The buyout package is 24 weeks’ pay and 6 months of health insurance for everyone in your family CURRENTLY covered. (After that, COBRA is offered for up to an additional 12 months – AT THE EMPLOYEE’S EXPENSE.) Those who do NOT need the 6 months of insurance can instead receive a lump sum payment of $5,000.
7) The 24 weeks’ pay will be in a lump sum and subject to taxation. No 401(k) deductions are made.
8) Those leaving are also entitled to a supplemental severance payment that is paid out monthly as an annuity and lasts until the fund runs out of money or the employee’s death, whichever comes first. That fund is currently projected to run out of money in 2024, the same year the pension fund is expected to be exhausted.
9) The company wants 30 buyouts from the Guild. It has said layoffs will happen if that goal is not reached. The language governing the layoff process is Article 28/Page 26 of the contract, which can be found at https://www.local-10.com/contracts/inquirer-daily-news-philly-com/. Please go there to read the article in full. It says, in part: “Decisions as to who may be laid off shall be determined by the Company in its sole discretion. A primary factor to be considered shall be length of service, in addition to performance, qualifications, and skills and abilities.”
10) Under Article 23 of the contract, anyone laid off will be entitled to severance pay of two weeks for each year of service up to a maximum of 16 weeks. Anyone laid off out of seniority order will be entitled to an additional two weeks’ pay for each year of service up to 16 weeks, as well as payment of COBRA costs for that same period.
11) Buyouts are being offered to non-union employees as well. Twenty-three meet the eligibility criteria. The company has not said what the buyout goal for those exempt employees is and whether layoffs will happen if that goal is not met.
12) If you are a newsroom Guild member and your role under the new reorganization will have a bearing on whether you seek a buyout or not, you are urged to schedule a meeting with Gabe or Patrick ASAP, during which you will be given a pretty good idea of what your new job is likely to be.
13) Anyone who takes a buyout and is not yet 60 must call the pension fund within 30 days of leaving the Company to begin immediately receiving payment of the Knight Ridder severance. If you do not make that call in time, you will not be allowed to begin receiving those payments until you turn 60. The person to call is Patricia Mullarkey at 856-616-2090 or 800-847-0902. She is also the person to call for all pension questions.

As always, additional questions can be directed to us by replying to this bulletin or emailing us directly at dmastrull@phillynews.com and bross@local-10.com.
In solidarity, Bill and Diane