Layoffs are happening now at The Associated Press, sources say.
The Guild listserv was abuzz last night with chatter that management would roll out mass cuts. One staffer wrote, “I hear 70-80 people are being cut across departments and classifications, including managers. Some have received notices, some have not.”
Says a source at AP’s Manhattan headquarters, “Staffers are clapping for some people, presumably those that got hit.” They include five people in the multimedia department, and one staffer is crying in the bathroom.
AP spokeman Paul Colford declined to comment on the layoffs. He reiterated that the company was working toward its goal of cutting payroll by 10% in 2009.
Update: Layoffs include a veteran national writer in New York; at least eight editorial assistant positions in domestic bureaus such as Albany, Denver and Kansas City; and in Washington DC, two staffers in the broadcasting and research departments.
Update: A source says cuts are underway on the West Coast.
Update: A DC-based business reporter was let go, and a business-news editor in New York was escorted out of the building. Three more biz-beat reporters are also gone, sources confirm.
Update: A tipster tells Gawker “that ‘a high percentage’ of the editorial assistants nationwide are being let go, as well as a National Photo Editor.” The tipster hears layoffs may total 80-90 people.
Update: The News Media Guild responds. The memo is pasted below.
Black Tuesday at AP
(NEW YORK) — Dozens of Guild covered employees at Associated Press were laid off Tuesday, as the news cooperative followed through on plans to achieve a 10 per cent payroll reduction by the end of 2009. The Guild learned of the terminations from reports by its members. The company has not yet provided formal notice to the union of today’s terminations as required by its contract, which covers about 1,300 editorial and technology unit employees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It was unknown how many managerial or non-US employees were let go.
“This is a very sad day for our AP colleagues and the public who relies on their important news work,” said Tony Winton, News Media Guild president. “We will be following up on all terminations to make sure that all benefits are paid and that seniority rules were applied properly,” he said. Under the Guild’s contract, seniority generally prevails in staff reductions. Laid off employees are entitled to proper notice, severance pay, and have a re-hire right if jobs later become available in their business location. Anticipating the cuts, the Guild and AP reached agreement on detailed job security terms in the most recent contract. The contract also provides AP the option of offering transfers and buyouts in cases of staff reductions. However — except for a few cases — it appears that AP has chosen not to offer buyouts, a stance Winton said was “very disappointing.”
As of 4 p.m., eastern time, the Guild had heard reports of more than 38 terminations from coast to coast affecting managers, reporters, editors, photographers, and editorial assistants. In New York, the AP’s headquarters, the Guild learned of 20 terminations. Earlier in the month, the company notified its AP Television News employees in Tallahassee, Fla. that their positions were being eliminated by year’s end. The Guild also learned from its sister local in Puerto Rico that AP was severely curtailing operations there, terminating eight employees. In both cases, the staffers had learned of the reductions from clients, before being informed by AP.
This is largest round of layoffs since 2006, when AP laid off about 100 technology workers. Earlier in the year, about 100 employees accepted a voluntary early retirement package.
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