Four Guild positions at the Seattle Times are to be eliminated effective June 4, resulting in layoff for four Guild members. Three of the layoffs involve Advertising Department sales support and training staff, while the fourth is in Inside Circulation. In addition, one non-affiliated Advertising Department manager will be laid off at the same time. The Times provided the Guild and the affected staff with five weeks advance notice of the layoffs, which was one additional week more than the minimum of four weeks required in the contract. Guild Administrative Officer Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe and Local President Darryl Sclater met with Times Labor Relations Director Martin Hammond on May 10 and May 17 for mandatory effects bargaining regarding the reduction in force.
The company is not characterizing the layoffs as part of any broad structural overhaul of business operations. Instead, according to Hammond, the job cuts reflect reduced work loads in certain areas and targeted cost-cutting. While no further layoffs are expected at this time, Hammond said the company could not rule out more such cuts in the future as management continues to look for ways to reduce costs without compromising business needs.
Citing the same cost pressures, the company was prepared to offer only two weeks severance pay to each affected individual. No company contribution toward COBRA medical coverage was offered. However, the company was prepared to structure the exact timing of the layoffs in such a way as to guarantee any eligible individual the ability to take advantage of the current federal COBRA subsidy.