More Layoffs — This Time in Ad Department — Hit Philly Papers

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By: Joe Strupp

Less than a week after about 70 newsroom employees were laid off at the Philadelphia Inquirer, at least 34 advertising positions – including 16 part-timers – are being cut today at Philadelphia Newspapers, which handles business operations for the Inquirer and Daily News.

Henry Holcomb, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, said the affected employees were being informed Monday morning one by one, with union representatives sitting in on the meetings with management. “We have just gotten word and they are in the process of informing them now,” Holcomb said about the impacted employees, who are among some 300 advertising department workers.

Although Publisher Brian Tierney predicted weeks ago that some 150 employees at the two papers could be cut, Holcomb says today’s announcement was a surprise.

“We didn’t expect them today so we can’t say what else is in line,” Holcomb said. Jay Devine, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the papers, confirmed the layoffs, but said no others are planned for the immediate future. “This completes the process of layoffs for now,” Devine told E&P. “We don’t anticipate any future layoffs.”

Holcomb said the union is also continuing to challenge the seniority list for last week’s layoffs, claiming some of those who have been affected actually have more seniority than others who were not laid off. “We see people who are on the list with more seniority and those left off with less,” said Holcomb, who declined to provide specific examples. “A lot of that is the result of [former owner] Knight Ridder not keeping good data.”

Devine said the dispute over some names on the list is “an inevitable process,” but said management and the guild were working well together to resolve any disagreements. “That will contimnue,” he said.

Last week’s layoffs came just weeks after the guild, which represents about 900 employees, signed a new contract.

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