Are NY Times newsroom layoffs inevitable?

Bambi Francisco Roizen · April 2, 2009 · Short URL:

If union members don't accept a pay cut, 70 newsroom jobs are at risk

 The New York Times' biggest union met this week to discuss the paper's proposal of 5% pay cuts or the risk of losing 80 jobs, which include 70 in The Times newsroom.

Last week, The Times said it would eliminate 100 non-union jobs and reduce pay by 2.5% to 5% from April through December.  Some employees will see pay cuts of 5% in exchange for 10 additional personal days this year.

Newsroom employees, who belong to the Newspaper Guild, have a choice to agree or not agree with those pay cuts. Well, sort of. If they don't take the cut, they'll most likely be out of a job.

There's not much of a choice there.

But the Guild is fighting for no pay cut because it thinks there's no guarantee The Times will keep union workers on staff anyway. 

According to the Guild, "It must be stressed that the management proposal comes with no guarantee that layoffs will be averted. What if we agree to the pay cut and the company goes ahead and cuts jobs anyway? That would be a double-whammy for those losing their jobs, since severance pay, which is calculated from employees’ final six months of pay, would be reduced as well."

Additionally, "union wage cuts could cause a shortfall to the employee health-care fund because it relies on contributions based on a percentage of salaries," according to Bloomberg, citing a memo. The Guild said members received a 2% pay boost this week, and are scheduled to get another one in March 2010. 

The Times said it would restore salaries next year, provided the economy improves and doesn't get worse.

(Image source: mediabistro)  

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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