The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia


Dear Guild members:
Less than a week after The Inquirer announced a desire to have employees increase their days working in the office in the spirit of “collaboration, inclusion, and sense of urgency about our work,” today the company informed five Guild members who have been extraordinary contributors to our mission that they are being laid off. So much for collaboration and inclusion.
Four of those employees are in the newsroom — three in photography and one in sports. The fifth is in the support center.
One has been a generous and valuable contributor to a number of committees the Company at one point described as important to The Inquirer’s culture, including the parental caucus, which achieved impressive gains in parental leave in our last contract negotiations.
Another was an esteemed Lenfest fellow, touted as a “comprehensive management development program providing career coaching and executive leadership resources to Philadelphia-area media professionals of color ….” Remember The Inquirer’s pledge to become more diverse? Ha!
This follows the elimination of 32 Guild members in February in what technically was a buyout but would have been layoffs had those employees not accepted buyouts.
That’s nearly 40 Guild members put out of work this year. That’s some kind of people-focused, creative management.
Again, let me remind you that when this company’s ownership was taken over by the Lenfest Foundation, there was much boasting about how we were now different from other newspaper companies. We were owned by a nonprofit, without the insidious slash-and-burn tendencies of hedge funds and absent the pressure of having to satisfy shareholders, we were told.
And yet, The Inquirer is resorting to the same inhumane, callous, lazy, uncreative playbook that such forms of ownership turn to again and againĀ  — cutting employees.
In numerous meetings with the company over the last several weeks, Guild executive director Bill Ross and I have pleaded with the company to reconsider a course that only serves to demoralize employees and send a message to the outside world that we’re a failing company.
But The Inquirer has chosen to respond the same way it did to employee surveys that gave high scores to the company’s hybrid work policy that required employees to come to the office just one day a week: with a big middle finger and an unmistakable message: “We don’t care what you think. We’re going to do what we want.”
It thinks this is how it is going to foster an environment that retains current employees and attracts new ones.
It needs to follow its own branding campaign and “unsubscribe” to such foolish, ignorant notions.
In solidarity and despair for our betrayed members,