Layoffs begin at The New York Times

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The New York Times building. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Nicole Levy

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Job cuts at the New York Times will exceed the stated goal of 100 newsroom positions eliminated, the Newspaper Guild of New York said yesterday in a memo to union members.

According to the guild, the Times said yesterday it will lay off 21 union-represented employees starting as early as today, after 57 guild members and roughly 30 non-guild members accepted buyout applications. That amounts to more than the 100 newsroom positions the newspaper said it needed to eliminate as a cost-cutting measure on Oct. 1.

Targeted staffers are expected to receive the news today or Wednesday. Many of those laid off will receive two weeks of notice pay, but those who began at the paper of record before May 1, 1994 can receive pay for 15 weeks of work.

Times management's decision to cut more than 100 newsroom jobs followed the hiring of "numerous new employees over [the] past six months," the union memo said. Prominent recently was the hiring of former NPR executive Kinsey Wilson as editor for innovation and strategy; Michelle Dozois as growth strategy editor; and Justin Bank from The Washington Post as deputy editor for audience development, to name a few. Other hires are expected soon, including possibly Alex Burns of POLITICO, according to a report from the Huffington Post.

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Read the union's memo below:

Despite having announced its target of reducing newsroom staff by 100 – and accepting the buyout applications of 57 Guild members and nearly 30 excluded employees – The Times told the Guild on Monday that it would lay off another 21 Guild-represented employees this week. Whatever the total (the number of excluded employees to be laid off is not known at this time), the company clearly will exceed its stated goal of 100 job cuts.

Any employee called into meet with management who would like a Guild representative to be present, or who just wants to talk, is welcome to call Unit Chair Grant Glickson at ext. 1030 or (732) 685-5018, Grievance Chair Mindy Matthews at ext. 1751 or (908) 397-3305, or Guild Representative Anthony Napoli at (212) 730-1508.

Management's decision to exceed its announced goal of 100 newsroom job cuts comes after it turned down the buyout requests of threeGuild-represented employees, hired numerous new employees over past six months and made no effort to retrain long-term employees. Since the Guild and The Times settled the current contract in November 2012, union membership has increased by 100.

Management is expected to deliver the layoff news to targeted employees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Discharged employees will be presented with a severance package and will likely be told that their last day of work is sometime this week, possibly even the day they are given the news. Regardless of when their last day is, most terminated employees will receive two weeks of notice pay. Employees hired before May 1, 1994, can be offered an additional 15 weeks of work or paid out for the time.

In the coming days and weeks, the Guild will examine all possible alternatives to the layoffs. The Guild also will study all information management used to target employees to make sure that the contract was followed. If any violations are found, the Guild will take all necessary steps to enforce the contract.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced the end of the buyout process, and the beginning of layoffs, in a memo to staff Tuesday morning. Baquet said the layoff process will end this week.

Here's Baquet's memo:

Dear Colleagues,

We are coming to the end of a painful period for the newsroom. Today is the final day for people to rescind their buyout applications. We did not make the number we needed to deal with our newsroom budget cuts. So we are turning to a limited number of layoffs.

This process will end this week. We will be saying farewell to close and valued colleagues, which is difficult for all of us.

One point I'd like to make. For all of the difficulties of the past few weeks our report has never wavered. From coverage of the torture report, to the continued hard-hitting reporting about abuses at Rikers Island, The Times has shown its ability to persevere and thrive even in hard times.

I will say more in the next few days about moving forward.