Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Round of Lay-offs at the Commercial Appeal

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Memphis Newspaper Guild president Wayne Risher sent the following email to members Tuesday:

With sadness and regret, I must inform you that the Memphis Newspaper Guild was notified today, Tuesday morning, by The Commercial Appeal that 9 Guild covered employees will lose their jobs by Dec. 20 as part of a reduction in force. The company, confirming rumors that had been swirling for the last few months, said job reductions would be made to cut expenses and achieve efficiencies in the business. The company said names of affected employees could be released to the guild later today.

Management gave this breakdown in cuts in guild-covered jobs by department: 1 in editorial, 2 in accounting, 2 in online services, 1 in advertising, 3 in operations. No information was provided on cuts of non-guild-covered employees, although it is our understanding the reduction is building-wide. This notification begins dialogue between the Guild and the company designed to avoid unnecessary hardships, as provided in our collective bargaining agreement. We stand ready to advocate on the affected employees’ behalf to make sure they receive proper credit for unused vacation/holiday time and other benefits.

Employees have a right to guild representation in meetings with the company regarding these matters. I and other members of the guild executive board will make ourselves available. Once the guild obtains the list, the information will be shared with affected employees on a strictly confidential basis. Call me at (901) 481-1829 (mobile) if you want to ask if you are on the list.

The Guild will host an informal get together for the affected employees from 6:30 to 8:30pm next Tuesday, December 13th at the Trolley Stop Market. We are also looking at having a meeting Saturday, December 17th at Emerge Memphis with a professional to assist in the job searching techniques.

Here are some things from the contract to keep in mind: It's the company's exclusive right to determine the size and composition of the staff. Loss of a job to a reduction in force isn't subject to arbitration, but the guild may initiate arbitration over whether reduction in force is the true reason for an employee's discharge.

The contract generally provides that employees departing under these circumstances shall receive severance of one week's pay for each six months of service, up to 42 weeks’ pay, provided they have been on the job at least six months. Something to be aware of, however, is that severance payments come out of the employee's eventual guild pension. Departing employees could be eligible for an additional two weeks’ pay, not from the pension, if their termination is the result of their jobs being shifted to subcontractors. For severance purposes, the pay rate is based on the highest weekly salary during three years prior to dismissal. For employees on commission, the rate is based on the highest yearly average during the preceding three years.

The company is supposed to determine who is discharged based on "relative competency, ability to do the work assigned, special abilities or qualifications for the particular function, and the length of service of any employee who is selected for dismissal”. When there is no substantial difference after application of the above, the employee or employees with the greatest total service shall be retained."


Wayne Risher,


Memphis Newspaper Guild

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