The Los Angeles Times has opened up its offer to buyout the contracts of editorial staffers to anyone who wishes to volunteer as the newspaper moves forward on plans to lay off dozens of employees amid declining advertising revenue.
According to a memo sent this past Friday and obtained by TheWrap, LA Times Management and the LAT Guild have reached a memorandum of understanding noting that any LAT Guild member who wishes to accept the buyout offer and leave the paper will count toward the 56 unionized staffer positions that will be cut, pending employer approval based on staffing needs. As part of negotiations with the guild, management agreed to withdraw the layoff of a senior photojournalist, reducing the planned layoffs to 56 unionized staffers and 73 staffers overall.
Guild members have until Friday (June 30) to notify management that they are accepting the offer and are eligible for up to 28 weeks of enhanced severance pay, starting at four weeks of pay for a staffer’s first year of service, plus two weeks of pay for each following year.
The buyout offer comes two weeks after the LAT Guild published a scathing open letter to the paper’s management led by executive editor Kevin Merida, accusing it of planning the layoffs without notifying the guild in advance in order to possibly reach a deal that could reduce or eliminate the layoffs altogether while cutting costs.
“We deserve better. The livelihoods of dozens of our colleagues are now on the line. Nothing could be more important for our day-to-day well-being and our professional futures at The Times,” the letter reads. “Your handling of this proposed layoff sends a clear message to the newsroom: You don’t care about the contract, and you don’t care about us.”
When reached for comment, the LAT Guild confirmed the buyout offer and said that it “remains disappointed with how L.A. Times management handled this layoff but are hopeful that a newsroom-wide buyout deal will help save some jobs, which had been our goal from the beginning.” TheWrap has reached out to the LA Times for comment and will update with any response.