Update May 18, 5:55 p.m.: T-D Publisher Responds
Update May 19, 4 p.m.: T-D Publisher Memo Posted
With wounds still fresh from last month's company-wide layoffs at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the ax has fallen again on the daily paper's newsroom.
As many as five additional layoffs were announced May 18 -- all reporters, adding to the 28 reporters, editors and artists who were cut loose April 2, including longtime cartoonist Gary Brookins and movie critic Daniel Neman.
Though no surprise to at least one of the reporters whose walking papers came Monday, the announcement still hurt.
“Glenn Proctor … said the company's in dire financial straits, we need to have more layoffs and you're among them,” the reporter says of the brief meeting with the paper's executive editor. “Then he got up and walked out.”
The layoffs primarily hit the metro desk, which focuses on local news.
The dire financial outlook at the T-D, however, may include a scheduled wage increase for reporters this month, which is part of the reporter union's contract. In an effort to aid in the paper's cost cutting, the union recently voted to defer the wage increase, assuming management would provide concessions. Negotiations with management for concessions stalled.
“We invited the [Richmond News Professionals Association] to participate equally in out cost-cutting efforts by forgoing their 2009 pay increase,” Publisher Thomas A. Silvestri says. During negotiations, he says, the union was told “without pay concessions, it would be necessary to achieve the concessions through other means.”
Silvestri's Memo to Employees:
To: All Times-Dispatch Employees
On April 2, I regretfully informed you of painful, but necessary, steps The Times-Dispatch was taking in response to our challenging economic conditions: we eliminated 31 open positions and laid off 59 employees across 11 departments that day. I also announced that there would be no pay increases in 2009 for all non-unionized employees.
We also invited the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association to equally participate in our cost-cutting efforts by foregoing the 2009 pay increases in their union contract. We explained to the RNPA, as we explained to everyone, that wage concessions were necessary in all departments to properly align our expenses with our depressed revenues. We also said that, without wage concessions, it would be necessary to achieve the savings through other means, which could include additional layoffs.
Unfortunately, our requests for pay increase concessions were rejected. This was the wrong answer from the RNPA. As a result, today we laid off an additional five employees in the Newsroom to achieve our targeted expense reductions.
I know all of us are working hard to make sure we can weather an extremely tough recession and serve the information needs of our readers to the very best of our ability. You have all been asked to do more with less and you have shown you are not as shortsighted as some in our Newsroom. Your hard work and continued support are greatly appreciated.