The Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild sent its members another memo this morning about the buyout offer at the Washington Post, clarifying a bit about who’s eligible. Yesterday, the union indicated that six local government and politics staffers were exempt from the offer; the buyout is targeting a total of nine employees in the Metro department, out of 48 jobs targeted for elimination.

Editor Marcus Brauchli reportedly told Posties the paper was only offering buyouts to people in coverage areas where the Post “could afford to absorb reductions,” and not in “core areas.” So it seemed the local government beat was considered a “core area,” despite the focus on Metro jobs.

Turns out that’s not necessarily the case. Fredrick Kunkle, the Guild’s co-chairman at the Post, says those local staffers are exempt either because they’ve been at the paper for too short a time to qualify for the buyout, or they’re part-time, or they’re out on leave—all categories that disqualify any Post employee from taking the buyout.

Full memo after the jump:


We’d like to clarify something we said in yesterday’s Bulletin. We noted that the Post has listed, by age and job title, every position that is eligible or ineligible for the buyout. And this is true. But the Post has advised us that this eligibility list is only a function of hiring date, employment status — full-time v. part-time — and whether a person is on leave. That’s because it turns out that those who are on leave are also exempted, which is something that was pointed out to us after we put out the Bulletin.

So, in other words, there is a list that spells out, for those departments and units that are targeted for buyouts, which employees are eligible and which are not and lists them by age and job title. For example, the Post has exempted six employees on the Local Politics Government team and eight in the National Economics and Business team and listed their exact ages and job titles. But the Post has told us this is because those folks are either part-time, recent hires or on leave. The buyout offer is only for full-time staff hired before Jan. 1, 2010 in selected departments who are “actively working,” according to the Post documents.

We apologize for any confusion. We will try to keep you updated as we learn more.

Please remember we would also like to hear from you if you would like to join the bargaining committee. We will do everything in our power to secure the best terms for everyone.

I would also like to remind you all — and especially those of you are covered by the Guild contract but do not pay your dues — that one of the main reasons the Post is offering buyouts and is not just tapping people on the shoulder and telling them to go, is because you have a union and a contract. In the past couple years, I have probably heard all the reasons why people do not do the right thing and sign up–(”Hey, I’m an Ivy League grad, a star, and my editor loves me–what me worry?”, “I can’t afford it,” “I have philosophical differences with organized labor,” “My generation doesn’t do unions,” etc.) — but that’s all just brave talk. If you’re not exempt, you do enjoy protections that you would not have if the Post, like any company, did not have to deal with an organized workforce. This includes news aides, columnists, editorial writers, video journalists and reporters of all kinds — including some who in their work seem highly sympathetic about American labor’s struggles but who are curiously uninterested in their own union–and commercial employees too. We are very grateful for those of you who already understand this. We’re only as strong as all of you.



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