Older Workers Targeted in IGM Buyout Offer

Parent of Philly.com, Inky, and Daily News seeking to reduce costs.

The-inquirer-doors-front-view-of-building

Interstate General Media — the parent company of Philly.com, Inquirer, and Daily News — is seeking to cut costs by eliminating some of the company’s longest-tenured workers.

IGM employees received a memo Wednesday afternoon from Howard Gensler and Bill Ross — president and director, respectively, of the Newspaper Guild that represents them in collective bargaining — informing them of the buyouts, and asserting that layoffs may be necessary if the company doesn’t reach its cost-cutting goals through volunteer departures.

The target of the buyout efforts: Employees who have stuck with IGM and its parent companies the longest.

The buyout is being offered to newsroom employees with 25 or more years of service and non-newsroom Guild employees with 35 years or more of service. Guild members in IGM’s advertising department are exempt from the offer. So are managers who otherwise match the buyout criteria.

“If the Guild does not reach the number of buyouts the company says it needs, Mr. Lenfest said there could be layoffs,” Gensler and Ross said in the memo.

Under a layoff situation, the Guild’s existing contract with IGM stipulates that employees with the least seniority be cut first. Longer-tenured employees, however, tend to have bigger salaries — by virtue of length of service — that, without the contract, make them tempting targets for cuts in cost-cutting situations.

This is the first attempt at job cuts since Gerry Lenfest took sole control of the papers earlier this year. Formal negotiations on the next contract between the Guild and IGM begin the week of Nov. 17.

There was no immediate comment from Guild or IGM officials.

Full memo below:

From: Guild Bulletin [guildbulletin@local-10.com]
To:
CC:
Subject: GUILD BULLETIN: IGM TO OFFER NEW ROUND OF GUILD BUYOUTS

In our pre-bargaining kick-off meeting with owner Gerry Lenfest and senior management, Mr. Lenfest said, “negotiations with the Guild are critical for sustainability at the company.”

Mr. Lenfest then announced that tomorrow morning the company will offer a buyout to newsroom employees with 25 or more years of service and non-newsroom Guild employees with 35 years or more of service. At this time Guild members in advertising are not eligible.

The buyout will be for 40 weeks of base pay and 6 months of medical. At this time there are no plans to include management in this buyout offer.

If the Guild does not reach the number of buyouts the company says it needs, Mr. Lenfest said there could be layoffs.

The first official contract bargaining session is scheduled for the week of Nov. 17.

In solidarity,

Howard Gensler, President
Bill Ross, Executive Director
The Executive Board of Local 38010/TNG-CWA