News Guild Local at Dow Jones Planning Moves vs. Wall Street Journal Cuts

NEW YORK—The News Guild local that represents Wall Street Journal workers is brainstorming over its moves in response to Journal management plans for job cuts at the nation’s premier business daily.

Management, citing declining advertising revenues – which have hit other newspapers and periodicals before they reached the WSJ – proposed buyouts to their employees.

While 48 people took buyouts, that wasn’t enough for management. WSJ managers said they would consolidate two sections dealing with New York City into one, and lay off approximately 19 workers.

The local, known as the Independent Association of Publishers Employees, represents more than 1,000 workers at the daily. It is one of the largest locals in the News Guild, a Communications Workers sector.

IAPE said it will challenge the cuts, but the question is what path it will take. The staffers were called in to meet with their desk editors, but a separate news report said there would be 16 new vacancies as a result of the cuts and that the laid-off workers could re-apply for them.

“The union will fully investigate as soon as management delivers copies of layoff notices to the IAPE office. If there is any possibility that layoffs may be challenged through the grievance and arbitration process, grievances will be filed immediately,” IAPE said.

Journal editor Gerry Baker, in his own memo to the staff, which was leaked, said that “Greater New York coverage will be reduced in size and will also move into the main section of the paper in the New York region.” Baker then had the department heads call in the workers they planned to lay off.

“GNY staff have already been told by one manager, ‘the Union contract says that we do it this way…We close the group and post jobs,’” IAPE said. “We disagree.”

The layoffs come as IAPE negotiators continue to try to reach a new contract with the Journal. The two sides have apparently agreed on Dow Jones’ plans for 2 percent yearly raises, for early termination options once a year and for continued health care coverage for a year with no premium or cost increases.

But they differ on whom, exactly, that one-year extension would cover and on union proposals for lump-sum signing bonuses and incentive compensation.

The union is also wary that the company may try to evade seniority rules when deciding whom to lay off, Forbes reported – by changing reporters’ titles or sections they work in.

Source: PAI