By: E&P Staff
Management at Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle informed the newspaper guild Thursday that it plans to cut 80 union and 20 management positions in the newsroom, according to the guild, representing about a 25% reduction.
“It is about as grim a scenario as you can come up with,” Carl Hall, a longtime union activist and former guild president who attended the Thursday meeting said of the cuts. “It is going to be very painful, dramatic, and dreadful.”
The newsroom staff current amounts to about 400.
In a statement, Michael Cabanatuan, president of the Northern California Media Workers Guild, said management described the cuts as necessary because the paper is losing substantial funds. It has suffered steep circulation drops in recent years.
Cabanatuan said the guild has proposed a plan to reach the target number of job reductions through voluntary buyouts and retirement incentives, rather than straight layoffs.
“I think they want to preserve a quality newsroom,” Hall said. “But it will not be quality if you get rid of this many people.”
But Hall, who said the parties would meet again today, believed a non-layoff plan with buyouts and other retirement incentives could be created if the paper worked with the union. “We are going to give it a shot,” he said.
Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega said, “Representatives from the Chronicle did meet (Thursday) with Guild representatives to initiate discussions on early retirement and buyout programs involving a significant number of people. We are not prepared to discuss specifics because it was just a preliminary conversation.”