Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NYT Guild Ratifies 5 Percent Pay Cut, But Some Still Fear Layoffs

Unionized employees at the New York Times Co flagship newspaper and its digital unit ratified a deal yesterday to cut pay by 5 percent, according to a memo obtained by Robert MacMillan and Phil Wahba of Reuters, paving the way for a reduction in pay for 1,300 employees starting Tuesday.

New York Times Co management had reached a tentative agreement with the Newspaper Guild of New York last week to cut union worker pay at the Times in a bid to save $4.5 million. Employees will be given an additional 10 paid days off leave per year.

Workers will get reduced pay through the end of the year, though New York Times management rejected a Guild proposal to guarantee that there would be no layoffs during the period in which the pay cut is in effect.

"Because our members know these are extraordinarily tough times for the news business, they were willing to pitch in to help the company cut costs without layoffs," New York Guild President Bill O'Meara said in the memo. "But if management comes back in a few months and cuts jobs despite the cooperation of our members, I think they will find that the reservoir of goodwill will have run dry."

O'Meara had earlier reportedly told staffers that regardless of the vote, layoffs are going to happen, according to John Koblin of the New York Observer.

. . . union chief Bill O'Meara told Times employees at a meeting this afternoon that layoffs are likely inevitable.

"There are no guarantees that this will save any jobs," said a source who attended the meeting. "They want to cut 80 jobs, including 70 in the newsroom. All this does is cut the numbers. They are still going to have layoffs."

When Mr. O'Meara was asked about the layoffs, he said, "I don't see how there can't be," said our source.

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