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VOL. 126 | NO. 238 | Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Commercial Appeal Cuts Nine Employees

By Sarah Baker

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The Commercial Appeal is planning another round of layoffs, the Memphis Newspaper Guild announced Tuesday, Dec. 6.

In an email to members, guild president Wayne Risher said The Commercial Appeal informed the guild Tuesday morning the news that nine guild-covered employees will lose their jobs by Dec. 20 as part of a “reduction in force.”

“The company, confirming rumors that had been swirling for the last few months, said job reductions would be made to cut expenses and achieve efficiencies in the business,” Risher said.

Risher is also a 28-year reporter at The Commercial Appeal, Cincinnati-based The E.W. Scripps Co.’s largest circulation newspaper.

The breakdown of job cuts provided is as follows: two in accounting, one in editorial, two in online, one in advertising and three in operations.

The Memphis Newspaper Guild is a 75-year-old labor union that represents journalists, as well as employees in departments ranging from advertising to accounting and maintenance.

The nine jobs only count employees covered by the Memphis Newspaper Guild. The Commercial Appeal did not provide information on cuts of non-guild-covered employees, although Risher’s note said it’s the guild’s “understanding the reduction is building-wide.”

“This notification begins dialogue between the guild and the company designed to avoid unnecessary hardships, as provided in our collective bargaining agreement,” Risher said. “We stand ready to advocate on the affected employees’ behalf to make sure they receive proper credit for unused vacation/holiday time and other benefits.”

A separate email sent by guild spokeswoman Amy Olmstead said The Commercial Appeal informed the guild that it plans to deny those nine employees the help in finding another job that has been routine in past layoffs.

Former employees who have been laid off in past rounds of cuts have gone through “outplacement training” through Nashville-based Russell Montgomery and Associates, Olmstead said. This type of training typically educates people on job search basics from putting together a resume to networking to learn about new job posts that haven’t been advertised yet.

“Several former employees who lost jobs in past rounds of cuts have told us that this training is extremely valuable and helps put them in the right mindset to look for work,” Olmstead said. “It’s especially helpful to workers who haven’t been on the job market for years.”

In a letter delivered to The Commercial Appeal Wednesday, Dec. 7, the guild “demanded that the newspaper provide professional outplacement assistance to those employees affected,” Olmstead said.

The guild will host an informal get together for the affected employees from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Trolley Stop Market, 704 Madison Ave. It’s also looking to hold a meeting Saturday, Dec. 17, at Emerge Memphis, 516 Tennessee St., with a professional to assist in the job searching techniques.

In related news, The KNS Media group – which is also owned by The E.W. Scripps Co. and includes the Knoxville News Sentinel – announced Tuesday the elimination of the positions of 33 employees, “a reduction in force reflecting the economic challenges the newspaper industry has been facing.”

The layoffs represented about 7.5 percent of the organization’s workforce and included four newsroom employees.

PROPERTY SALES 51 328 20,960
MORTGAGES 58 387 24,132
BUILDING PERMITS 170 842 43,435
BANKRUPTCIES 50 288 13,468