The Newspaper Guild’s stance on the seniority question can be found on sarcastic stickers in PMN’s Market Street newsrooms — and on the web.
Who gets to be part of the future of Philadelphia’s biggest, most venerable journalistic enterprise? Young, eager newbies ready to stake their claim to the city? Or older workers who’ve already spent 20, 30 years or more adapting to sweeping changes they never could’ve anticipated at the beginning of their career?
That’s one of the big questions at the heart of the dispute between Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — and the Newspaper Guild that represents the company’s journalists, ad sales staff and other support staffers. Most of the focus on the jammed-up negotiations between the two sides has been about the medical benefits those staffers will receive, but another question — seniority — looms just as large.
The essential conflict is this: The union wants to keep long-held “last-hired first-fired” seniority rules in place, so that long-tenured (read: older, more expensive) journalists aren’t tossed overboard in favor of cheaper, younger labor should the company do layoffs again in the near future. The company, though, says it needs flexibility to keep the workers who contribute best to its vision of 21st century journalism (read: younger, more tech-savvy) — and to more easily shed workers who don’t.
Thus, the impasse. Read more »