The L.A. Times Guild called an emergency meeting on Thursday after leadership was told that the newspaper intends to “imminently execute another major round of layoffs,” according to a memo.
The Bargaining Committee told members that it can’t say exactly how many staffers the company is intending to lay off, however, in the memo obtained by the New York Times, the union says “This is the Big One.”
The Times “has asked the Guild to gut seniority protections in our contract so that have vastly more freedom to pick who to lay off,” the memo continued. “If we agreed to their request, they could choose almost any member they want; in exchange, management would add another layer of buyouts and told us they would lay off 50 fewer Guild members from an unspecified total.”
“We need to reduce our operating budget going into this year and anticipate layoffs,” a spokesperson from the Times said in a statement. “The hardest decisions to make are those that impact our employees, and we do not come to any such decisions lightly.”
“We are continuing to review the revenue projections for this year and taking a very careful look at expenses and what our organization can support,” the statement continued.
The Times additionally noted that the Guild has asked for buyouts prior to executing layoffs and that leadership is seeking flexibility in conducting cuts in order to save 50 union roles.
This comes just one week after executive editor Kevin Merida left his role at the newspaper amid tension with owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. Merida took the newsroom by surprise with his decision, leaving after less than three years, five months before his contract was up.
Merida was also reportedly frustrated with Soon-Shiong’s involvement in the newsroom as well as budgeting shortcomings which eventually led to mid-year layoffs in 2023.
Layoffs were carried out by the LAT in June, where 74 roles were cut from the organization, equating to over 10% of the newsroom.
More layoffs were expected at the newspaper in 2024.