The newspaper group includes the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal
The company announced the impending cuts on February 22 in a memo to staff from editor/publisher Richard Connor.
Connor has repeatedly claimed the company he bought last June is profitable. The layoff memo gives only a limited explanation as to why the cuts are necessary.
“Business needs in our company are such that we must eliminate certain positions and re-organize,” the memo reads.
The exact jobs to be eliminated will be announced in mid-March. Employees were told they had until March 5 to volunteer to be terminated, but no incentives were offered to those who accept that offer. Under union contracts, most workers would be entitled to two weeks pay for every year they’ve worked at the newspapers, whether they agree to leave or are forced out.
Members of the Portland Newspaper Guild, the largest union at MTM, are meeting today to discuss the layoffs.
One company insider said the motivation for the staff reduction may not have much to do with the bottom line, but rather with eliminating workers who don’t fit in with the new management.
“Everything we’ve been hearing is the financials are doing well,” the insider said, adding that it seemed unlikely the layoff threat was aimed at reporters and editors.
“I can’t see how they’ll hit the newsroom, because it’s down to nothing,” the source said.