Outsourcing at Sun-Times

Sun-Times Media Group is moving more jobs overseas.

A company representative verified reports this week that advertising production employees were told recently that up to dozen advertisement layout positions could  be “affected” when their work is outsourced this year to the Philippines.

Some advertising work is already being done in Manila, said Ted Rilea, vice president of labor relations and human resources for the company. About a dozen advertising graphic artists lost their jobs five years ago when their work was moved to India.

The Sun-Times uses a company called Affinity Express to ship jobs to low-wage countries in Asia. Affinity is based in Elgin and has facilities in Manila and in Pune, India. The company Web site says it has 1,000 employees and promises clients “30 to 50 percent reductions in your costs.”

If 12 paginator jobs are eliminated, the department will be eliminated, said a Sun-Times employee.  A “coordinator” may remain in Chicago, she said. “It seems like they’re eliminating a department every month now,” she said.

Workers were told July 9 about plans to have their work moved to Manila.

The Sun-Times employee said she understood paginators who prepare ads for for newspapers in the company’s West Group – Joliet, Aurora, Lake County, Elgin, Naperville and Pioneer Press — would be affected first and that some jobs might be gone starting in August.

Because they don’t work under a union contract, it isn’t known if they will receive severance pay or other layoff benefits.

The Sun-Times eliminated about a dozen graphic artists and sent their work to India about five years ago. The company’s ad sales staff also has been sharply reduced.

The advertising workers being eliminated aren’t union members but plenty of Newspaper Guild jobs have been cut over the last decade.  The entire Sun-Times photography staff was laid off last month, about 40 full-time photographers working for the Sun-Times in Chicago and for other newspapers in the Chicago area and in Gary, Ind. Most of the photographers are Guild members.

Reporters and editors have been fired in waves over the past decade, too, including many union members.

“The company’s move to outsource its remaining layout department to a firm in the Philippines may seem fiscally prudent in their eyes, but it saddens me,” said David Pollard, president of the Chicago Newspaper Guild.

“It seems like the company is consistently moving away from what Journalism is all about,” he said. “No more photographers, no more people at arms length to reach out to and make sure an advertisement is where it is supposed to be in the newspaper. Technological advancements have made things easier, but when it is all said and done the company’s brands like the Chicago Sun-Times, Pioneer Press, Joliet Herald etc. are fueled by these employees and  journalists who are out in the community – the blood that helps the heart of these newspapers keep pumping. Outsourcing photographers has already created devastating consequences and this most recent move may prove to be just as devastating.”

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