More layoffs are imminent at Sun-Times Media, media blogger Robert Feder reported in a recent story.
“Any further layoffs in the editorial department on the part of Sun-Times Media will be at its own peril. The Guild promptly challenged the layoffs of our Sun-Times Unit Chair and the entire photography department with the National Labor Relations Board. The Guild will exhaust all legal options to prevent any future layoffs. Moreover, from a practical standpoint, I really cannot see how the Sun-Times can put out a viable product with any further layoffs in its editorial department,” Chicago Newspaper Guild Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum said.
The Guild maintains that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which gave the company the ability to fire employees at will without negotiating first, expired in October 2012. Last year, the Guild served notice to the company that MOU was no longer in effect.
This means that the company must bargain with the Guild before eliminating employees. If any Guild members are fired without good faith bargaining, the Guild can and will bring charges against the company, Rosenbaum said. Such was the case with the 28 Sun-Times Media photographers who were fired May 28. (About 20 of them were covered by one of the Guild’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.) No notice was served to the Guild and charges against the company for this are pending with National Labor Relations Board.
Feder wrote that “sources said staff reductions will target departments throughout Sun-Times Media, including editorial,” in his Nov. 1 story (http://www.robertfeder.com/2013/11/01/more-layoffs-coming-to-sun-times/). His article does not disclose who these sources are.
Chicago Sun-Times just hired a new features writer. No Guild employees have been laid off since the photographers May 28.
Feder’s story isn’t the only online reference to impending layoffs at the Sun-Times. An anonymous commentator said that Sun-Times Vice President of Digital Audience Development and Marketing Sarah Wilde announced that 300 layoffs were coming next month in the October Chicago Magazine article “Michael Ferro isn’t worried” (http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/November-2013/michael-ferro/).
“That’s not a plan,” company negotiator Ted Rilea answered the Guild when asked about this comment at the Oct. 24 bargaining session.
Sun-Times staffers reported that Wilde warned them about “substantial layoffs” after she resigned, Feder wrote in his article.
Wilde denied making any such comment when she spoke to the Guild Nov. 1. She confirmed that she resigned her position with Sun-Times Media.
“I never talked to anyone about layoffs. I’m probably an easy target because I’m leaving for another company,” Wilde said.