The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia


September 22, 2020billrossInquirer

Dear Guild members:

The Company informed Bill Ross and me yesterday that it intended to proceed with 8 layoffs in the Inquirer newsroom as a result of not reaching the desired 12 takers of the buyout offered in July.

We urged the Company to reconsider such a demoralizing, destructive, unimaginative course of action. Forcing 8 employees out of work at a time when job opportunities are scarce and putting their health care at risk during a historic pandemic is unconscionable.

We asked the Company to consider offering another buyout but to a bigger pool of eligible employees. It has agreed today to do so.

The new buyout is now available to newsroom employees age 50 or above, with 10 or more years of service. The terms are the same as in July: three weeks of pay for each year of employment with the Company, capped at 26 weeks, and COBRA for the same amount of time. 

Anyone eligible employee has until Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. to apply. 

Unlike July, the Company is now making it clear that if 8 buyout takers are not secured, THERE WILL BE LAYOFFS. 

If anyone is laid off outside of seniority — meaning a person in the same job category with fewer years of service is kept but you are let go — that person will receive 20 weeks of severance PLUS another 20 weeks of severance as a penalty paid by the Company for not following straight seniority in the reduction in force process. In other words, that deal is more lucrative than the buyout being offered.

The Company and your Guild officers all hope to avoid involuntarily employment terminations. I think we can all agree our journalism has never been more important and it is being conducted amid life-threatening conditions day after day. Each and every one of you are working far more hours than you are getting paid for as working from home proves to be an endless work day.

For employees with school-age children, the work is even more crushing.

Anyone who is eligible for the new buyout will be receiving paperwork today. If you are someone that is not eligible but wants to be considered, please contact me or Bill. 

In the meantime, please try to stay calm and healthy. Feel free to reply to this bulletin with any questions, or contact me or Bill directly.

In solidarity,