Employees at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News have just been presented with the worst-ever buyout offer in the long and storied history of attempts to pay journalists here in Philly to stop working. “It’s not the most enticing offer,” says Newspaper Guild representative Bill Ross.
Here’s the run-down:
Edit staffers with one to five years on the job can net themselves $5k and one month of free medical coverage on their way out the door—the sort of offer that would only be appealing if you’d just been given two weeks to live. Staffers with six to 14 years experience get $10K and two months of medical benefits. And 15 years or more experience means $20K and three months of medical.
Ross says previous offers from other owners were “more generous.” To compare: Knight Ridder buyouts ran about two weeks’ salary for every year of service—i.e., more than half a year’s salary for an employee with 15 years on the job.
So far, no buyout has been put forth for any department besides editorial. And staffers have till September 21st to accept the offer. This is, clearly, an attempt to avoid or minimize layoffs. But thus far, Ross says he has received only a few phone calls from interested guild members. And just one employee—longtime DN columnist and AARP-ready Elmer Smith—has rushed to accept a buyout.
Ross says he has not been told how many takers management needs in order to forego dismissals. But he did note that even as employees ponder their fates, Philadelphia Media Network management began prepping the public space on the first floor for the introduction of their new tablet promotion. Suggested slogan: A new way of delivering content, soon with even fewer people to help create it.