Friday, November 13, 2009

New York Times News Service Trims at Least 25 Staffers

The New York Times News Service will dismiss nearly eyeryone on its editorial staff and will move the news operation to the Gainsville Sun, the service announced yesterday through a report in The New York Times.

David Kaplin writes on

The NYTNS edits and syndicates articles from the NYT and more than 100 other sources. It acts like the NYTCo’s version of the AP. It also provides videos and photos to members of its syndicate, as well as features for weekly newspaper supplements.

There’s some dispute about how many of the NYTNS editors and writers will lose their jobs. The NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) says that the 25 of total 30 staffers will be let go, while the Newspaper Guild, which represents the employees, claims that 28 are being dismissed. Either way, the numbers of laid of news service staffers will not count toward the 100 cuts the main NYT newsroom is looking to make by the end of the year.

The layoffs that the NYTNS effectively leave the operation shuttered in New York. By moving it to The Sun in Florida, the NYTCo will have the paper’s less-costly non-union staff handling the duties of running the service. There was no indication as to how much the company would save on the changes or how much the layoffs would initially cost.

Speaking if the non-union workforce at the NYTCo, the company said it would stop cease contributions to their pensions when the year draws to a close. Instead, the NYTCo would take 3 percent of their wages each year and put that in non-union staffers’ 401(k) plans. No word on how much that move would save either.

Here is the Guild's memo as published on Romenesko:

Times to Subcontract News Service

Times management informed the Guild late this afternoon that the company intends to subcontract the work of the News Service. Management representatives told the Guild the work will be sent to the Gainesville Sun, a property owned by The New York Times. The subcontracting would impact all 28 Guild staffers – one assistant to the editor, two editors, 23 staff editors, one news assistant and one news clerk.

After members had been informed by management of the subcontracting, the Guild met with the affected employees to answer questions and inform them of their rights under the collective bargaining agreement. Under the contract, The Times has given the contractually required notification to the Guild, which triggers a 60-day period that allows the Guild an opportunity to try to avert the subcontracting. The Guild, as always, will monitor the situation and keep members informed.

Times Freezes Nonunion Pension Plan

The Times this morning also announced it will freeze the nonunion pension plan, effective December 31, 2009. This action will not impact the Guild/Times Pension Plan that covers Guild employees, which was left unclear in a communication put out by the company earlier today. Because the Guild/Times pension is protected under our contract the Times cannot make unilateral changes to it.

While The Times has frozen the exempt pension plan and increased the cost of the exempt health care plan, the company cannot make these unilateral changes for Guild covered employees, thanks to our contract.


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