Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NY Times layoffs

Blue Christmas on horizon for Gray Lady with layoffs looming

The ax will probably swing for about two dozen journalists at the New York Times in late December, insiders said, as a voluntary buyout program looks like it will fall short of its goal of 100 newsroom people.
At the end of last week, there were only 29 requests in for voluntary buyout packages according to Grant Glickson, the Newspaper Guild’s unit representative at the Times. By Tuesday, six days before deadline, the union said the number had only grown to the “high 30s.”
The deadline to apply is Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.
If the Times is not able to get its desired 100 volunteers, Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and Executive Editor Dean Baquet warned that the company would make up the difference with involuntary cuts.
Additional employees are expected to submit requests by the deadline, Glickson told Media Ink — adding that he expects there will have to be “about 20-to-25 layoffs.”
The 100 workforce reduction is believed to be about 7.5 percent of the 1,330-person newsroom.
The initial nonbinding requests for information from employees drew more than 300 responses, briefly raising hopes that there might not be any forced layoffs.
But those hopes were fueled by a quirk in the process. In the past, packages were sent to every eligible employee. This time around, employees had to put in an individual request to take a gander at what their personal package would look like if one opted to take it.
So, naturally, employees just casually interested in their number submitted a request.
The company itself also recently conceded layoffs are likely.
“The most frequently asked question is about scale and whether or not there will be enough buyouts to avoid layoffs,” Janet Elder, a deputy executive editor, said in an e-mail to the newsroom last week.
“Given that the buyout window is still open, it’s hard to have an absolute answer to that question just yet,” Elder said. “Early efforts to handicap the outcome regrettably point to having to do some layoffs.”
The voluntary package included up to three weeks pay for each year of a work plus a one-time bonus equal to 35 percent of the annual salary for employees with 20 or more years on the job.
Elder also cautioned that not everybody looking to escape the Gray Lady with a parachute will be given that option. “Some jobs are too critical to our mission to let go,” she wrote.
In one big surprise, Glickson himself may be one of those who takes the money and runs. “I’m mulling it,” said Glickson, who is a 27-year veteran of the Times.
For the bulk of those accepting a voluntary package, their last day of work will be Dec. 16.
The company will then swing the ax on the involuntary buyouts from Dec. 16-19 —casting Sulzberger in the role of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas — as the involuntary cuts will fall a week before the holiday.

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