Deal allows retiring newsroom staffers to return as part-timers

The Guild and management have reached an agreement that enables newsroom employees taking the buyout to return as part-timers if Editor Margaret Sullivan wants them back.

The deal, reached last week after weeks of negotiations, was ratified Tuesday by the union’s Executive Committee.

The News has also expressed a willingness to offer part-time positions to the nine full-time district managers, who are eligible for the buyout, based on a previous arrangement with the Guild for part-timers in the Circulation Department.

“Credit goes to both sides, the News and the Guild, for the newsroom agreement. It will make the buyout more attractive, help the company reduce costs and keep key retiring newsroom employees working in some capacity,” said Guild President Henry Davis.

Here are the key provisions:

  • Newsroom management has the sole discretion as to whether part-time positions will be offered to those accepting the buyout. While Sullivan will not guarantee re-employment prior to the Aug. 12 deadline for accepting the buyout, she will indicate if she has no intention of rehiring a retiring newsroom employee. In other words, she won’t say “yes,” but she will say “no.”
  • The part-time positions are limited to under 1,000 hours a year, or an average of about 18 hours a week. Part-timers will not receive health insurance benefits, but will enjoy other provisions of the contract, including paid vacation time.
  • Returning newsroom employees can work in the C and D group pay categories and will earn top-of-scale hourly wages. Any re-employment in other pay categories must be upon mutual agreement between the Guild and management.
  • Retiring reporters will not “take their beat with them.” That is, any full-time beats will continue to be staffed by a full-time reporter, although a returning reporter could supplement beat coverage or work as a vacation fill-in on the beat.
  • Returning retirees lose their prior Guild seniority and would thus be first in line in the event of future layoffs.

These terms apply only to the current buyout offer.

The company’s budget for the buyout offer is expected to facilitate the retirement of 15 to 17 employees. There’s a cap of one employee in each of the three commercial departments, Classified Advertising, Inside Circulation and Accounting. There is no cap for the newsroom or district managers.

To date, eight employees have signed up for the buyout, including four in the newsroom. In the past, many of those who opted for the buyout wait until the final week to sign up.