No layoffs; 21 Guild members take buyout

8.17.11 – A total of 21 Newspaper Guild employees took the latest, pension-based voluntary separation offer presented by The Buffalo News.

Management said it came close enough to, or exceeded, its goal of cutting Guild payroll and benefits by $1.8 million and, as a result, does not anticipate layoffs to cut costs.

“It’s great news,” said Guild President Henry Davis. “We’re sad to see some of our colleagues leave and wish them well. But it’s a relief to know that we avoided layoffs.”

The effort to reach the News’ target was aided by the Guild negotiating for the inclusion of other employee changes to be factored into the cost savings, including the promotion of three Guild members to management positions in the newsroom.

In addition, the company said eight managers took a buyout in a separate voluntary separation offer for management at The News, including two from Editorial.

The following Guild employees are taking the buyout:

* Editorial (10): Scott Johnston, Dan Herbeck, Bill Wippert, Gerry Goodwin, Donn Esmonde, Darlene Gillham, Randy Rodda, Fletcher Doyle, Brian Meyer and Jim Heaney

* Circulation (5): Tom Frye, Phil Scapillato, Pat Gormley, Paul Bovey and Brian Long

* Classified Advertising (3): Ralphine Magby, Diane Cupples and Carole Bridge

* Accounting/Bookkeeping/Credit (2): Shukriyyah Hawkins and Carol Jones

* Customer Service (1): Lisa Stephan-Kozlowski.

The company is contractually entitled to establish the terms of the buyout. But the Guild and The News also made an agreement that will allow select Editorial employees — at management’s discretion — to return in a part-time role.

As of Tuesday, the company had agreed to bring back on a part-time basis Esmonde, Herbeck, Johnston and Meyer. A previous agreement allows district managers in Circulation who take the buyout to return to part-time jobs.

If the buyouts did not achieve $1.8 million in savings, News officials had threatened to seek an assortment of other cost-cutting measures, including wage reductions and layoffs.

As of Tuesday, company negotiators remained noncommittal about the potential for a cash-based buyout.

Negotiations are not over, with some big issues remaining to resolve, including health insurance. Other issues include company proposals to bring in new work related to Circulation, Customer Service, Classified Advertising and Accounting; call monitoring and recording in commercial departments; and reporters shooting photos.

Both sides will meet again on Thursday. The Guild hopes to have more details on the final cost-cutting figure then.