The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia


November 29, 2022billrossGuild News, Inquirer

Dear Guild Members, 

Just a quick update on where things stand with regard to the buyout, possible layoffs and the return-to-office plan at The Inquirer.

At the urging of the Guild, the Company has extended the application deadline for those interested in the buyout to this Friday, Dec. 2. (It had been the Friday after Thanksgiving.)

As a reminder, the buyout is only available to those employees with at least 25 years with the company — Guild and non-Guild.

As of this writing, about five Guild members have applied. The Company has not disclosed how many non-Guild members have applied.

Yesterday, Bill Ross and I met with the head of labor relations, Tom Zipfel, to impress upon him the importance of knowing the number of layoffs the Company would like to have and if layoffs would occur if that target was not achieved.

Today, we got both answers:

The number of buyouts the Company is looking for: 20. That is companywide.

Will there be layoffs if that doesn’t happen: “Unfortunately, if that target is not reached, the Company will need to consider layoffs at some point in the future,” Zipfel said.

No specific timeline was provided as to when such layoffs would occur, though Zipfel said they would not happen around the holidays nor likely before the end of the year.

We had also pressed for the Company to disclose details about the return-to-office plan, suggesting that might factor into people’s decisions on whether to take the buyout.

As you saw from the Company’s announcement on that yesterday, the plan would be to have most employees work out of the new office (likely beginning in February) at least one day a week. Some employees will remain fully working from home. And the Company will entertain individual requests for exemption from coming into the office even once a week.

The Company told us it does not intend to strictly police this but to treat everyone as “adults.” In other words, if there’s a week you can’t make it into the office on the day you’re supposed to be in, there will be flexibility. But if people consistently disregard the return-to-office directive, well, there likely will be a discussion about that — with Guild representation.

For now, many details surrounding the return-to-office plan are still being worked out including parking and which days each department or team will be expected to come in. For instance, would working in the office on Saturday or Sunday count toward the minimum? Those answers and more to come as we get closer to the new year. 

We’ll keep the information flowing on all of these issues as it becomes available. Meanwhile, if you have concerns or questions, reach out to your shop stewards. 

Don’t know who your shop steward is? Hit reply to this bulletin and tell us so and we’ll get you an answer.

Urging patience and calm, and in solidarity,