‘St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Seeking 30 New Buyouts

By: Joe Strupp

The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press is seeking to cut some 30 positions in news, classified advertising, and production through a series of buyouts, the paper announced today. The offer comes just seven months after a previous buyout reduced staff by 29 employees, including 22 in the newsroom.

In a statement released this afternoon, the paper revealed that it would seek 30 volunteers across several departments, with an effort to complete the process in just 10 days. One reporter said Publisher Guy Gilmore had told staffers that at least 15 newsroom staffers would be sought to give up their jobs.

“In response to continued economic and industry changes, the Pioneer Press today announced plans to offer voluntary buyouts to employees in its newsroom and classified call center, as well as to members of its Communication Workers of America typographical unit,” the statement said. “The company anticipates that the buyouts, to be accomplished by July 27 – along with attrition and decisions not to fill currently open positions – will minimize the need for layoffs. Company-wide, about 30 positions are likely to be affected.”

The buyout offer comes seven months after the paper conducted a similar program that resulted in 29 employees leaving, including 22 newsrooms staffers, in December.

Gilmore added, in the statement, that “the move will not compromise the Pioneer Press’ recent growth in such areas as online and targeted publications or its focus on key strengths,” adding that “zoned news coverage in St. Paul, North Suburban, Dakota County, Washington County and Wisconsin editions will remain a priority. Our local focus is considered a distinct competitive advantage for the Pioneer Press.”

But the statement also noted that “the changes come after a difficult first half of 2007 for newspapers nationwide.” Gilmore predicted that the paper would seek cost savings in its current Newspaper Guild contract talks, stating “to avoid additional cuts moving forward, critical factors will include the newspaper’s ability, in current contract negotiations…to secure the flexibility it needs to remain competitive.”

Guild leaders could not immediately be reached for comment.

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