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Company seeking buyouts to reduce staff

The company informed the Guild on Monday that it seeks an unspecified reduction in staffing during the middle of 2019.  Under the terms of the current contract, that step requires the company first make a buyout offer to workers who are willing to leave prior to pursuing potential layoffs.

The offer is similar to that made in 2016 and late last year when the company last sought staffing cuts. It calls for two weeks pay per year of service, starting at a minimum of 4 weeks pay to a maximum of 62 weeks pay.

Years of service would be based on an employee’s tenure as of May 1, 2019. Fractions of years would not be counted, so for example, if tenure clocked in a 9 years and ten months, the buyout would be based on 9 years.

For sales representatives, commissions would be included in the buyout calculation, based on a 52-week average to May 1, 2018

Workers also would receive health insurance coverage for that same period of time. 

To receive the buyout, workers would have to sign a perpetual release that indicates the worker will make no future claims against the company.

Pension benefits and accrued benefits, such as vacation time, makeup days and personal days are guaranteed by our contract, and would be paid at the time of the buyout. Commissions would be included in the buyout calculation for advertising sales staff.

The company has sole discretion to decide each buyout request on a case-by-case basis. Factors would include whether a particular worker would need to be replaced, and whether the company can reduce payroll.

The company did not indicate a potential target for the number of positions that it seeks. Management indicated that exempt employees are also being targeted for buyouts.

Under our contract, members must vote on whether the package should be offered for consideration. If the buyout offer is rejected, then the company can initiate layoffs. Under the contract, layoffs would be based on reverse seniority order (first in-last out). The company would have to give 45 days advance notice to anyone subject to layoff, or provide 45 days pay.

Laid-off workers are entitled to additional dismissal pay based on years of service, up to a maximum of 62 weeks for those with 30 ½ years of service. Health insurance coverage is not provided as part of dismissal pay.

The company has set a deadline of 5 p.m. June 7 for applications. Workers who are selected for the buyout package will have 45 days in which to sign the agreement or not. Workers who sign the agreement then will have seven days to reconsider revoking it.

The Guild Executive Board is seeking to schedule a member vote on whether the buyout offer should be made available. After that, workers can decide individually whether to apply. All pension rights in our contract remain in effect and you should also be able to access monthly payment estimates at your account on myhearstretirement.com

Your Guild officers can take any questions that you have. Contact Brian Nearing (x5094), Amanda Fries (x5353), Marianne Mahr (x5589), Rob Gavin (x5064), Mark Hempstead (x5675), and Jeff Boyer (x5429).

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