Detroit JOA Looking For 150 To Buy Out

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By: E&P Staff

The Detroit Media Partnership — the publishing agency of the Gannett Co.’s Detroit Free Press and Media News Group Inc.’s Detroit News — is looking for 150 employee volunteers to take buyouts by July 18.

The buyout offer is being extended now only to non-union employees. The joint operating agency (JOA) said Monday that if unions agree, the severance program will be extended to organized workers as well.

“The environment in which newspapers operate continues to worsen rapidly, and the Detroit Media Partnership faces unique challenges because of the state’s business and economic climate,” Free Press CEO and Publisher David Hunke said in a memo to employees. ” We must take several actions immediately.”

In addition to the buyouts, Hunke said the paper is ceasing publication of Twist, a Sunday entertainment section, and the Community Free Press sections.

The buyout offer is being made to employees who are at least 45 years old with at least 10 years of service at the papers.

It offers two weeks of severance for every year of employment, up to 52 weeks with health benefits during the payout period.

Hunke said if the voluntary offer “doesn’t result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs.”

This is the second buyout program the JOA has offered in the past year. Last fall, the partnership offered buyouts to 110 employees.

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