Newspapers Offer Buyout to Older Inquirer, Daily News Workers

Journos with 25 years at the company could leave soon.

Philadelphia Media Network is trying to shed some of its longest-tenured employees — Newspaper Guild members with 25 years or more working for the Inquirer, Daily News and are being offered voluntary buyout packages.

The buyout offer went out Monday afternoon to roughly 150 members of the Guild, which represents journalists, ad sales employees, and other support staffers at the news organizations. The buyout was negotiated as part of the recent two-year contract between PMN and the Guild.

Unlike many buyout offers, this effort is not a prelude to layoffs, company officials said.

“This program has nothing to do with layoffs,” Keith Black, PMN’s vice president of human resources, said through a company spokesman. “There is not a predetermined target that we need to reach.”

Those eligible for buyout include 21 members of the Daily News news staff and more than 60 members of the Inquirer newsroom staff.

Employees have until August 10th to request a buyout. The company said it reserves the right not to accept an application if there is a “legitimate business need” to keep the worker on the job.

Workers who take the buyout will get a lump sum payment of 40 weeks of their base salary earnings, plus cash for six months of COBRA-based health insurance, as well as money for unused time off. In return, employees agree not to sue the company in the future and not to make any disparaging remarks about PMN — and in fact must agree to remove or delete any online disparaging postings they might’ve previously made.

The company expects to accept or reject all buyout applications by August 14th; employees who do take the buyout will be terminated no later than August 30th.

The buyout memo below:

From: “Lakusiewicz, Harriet”

Good afternoon:

As you are aware from our communications following the Tentative Agreement that was reached between the Company and the Guild last month, PMN will be offering a Voluntary Separation Program to eligible Guild members.

This program begins today and is open to active full-time employees who are covered by the Guild collective bargaining agreement and who have at least twenty-five (25) years of service as of July 1, 2015. More eligibility and program details can be found in the attached Announcement. Please review all of the attached documents carefully before making your decision.

Interested, eligible employees must apply by submitting the Application in person to me, by no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, August 10, 2015.  The Company intends to accept or reject offers as soon as possible after they are received, but no later than Friday, August 14, 2015.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or Keith Black if you have any questions about this Program or your eligibility.

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