Philly Newspapers announces layoffs

February 27, 2008 4:24:09 PM PST
Union officials say another round of layoffs has come to Philadelphia's two largest dailies, with 68 non-newsroom employees losing their jobs as the newspaper advertising market continues to slump. The papers' owner, Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, has cut workers in advertising, circulation, customer service, finance, marketing and systems, The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia said Wednesday. In addition, the union said, a "very small" number of managers will be laid off.

The layoffs take effect on March 28, but the company has told employees they can leave immediately, the guild said. Guild officers said they were told by a human resources executive that the company has to cut expenses because "the revenue is not there."

Jay Devine, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Holdings, said the company was forced by the weak advertising market to make cuts.

The company has added editorial workers and is completing a plant investment of nearly $4 million that will put more color into the papers, he said in a statement.

"We continue to make prudent investments in areas of growth that are critical to the organization while also being as absolutely efficient as we can be in all other areas," Devine said in a statement.

The company has 2,400 full-time and 1,500 part-time workers, he said.

Chief Executive Brian Tierney told the newspapers' unions last month that the company needed to cut costs by 10 percent or it would have difficulty making debt payments. The Guild said it has formed a committee that has been generating ideas to boost revenue, and called Wednesday's layoffs discouraging.

"This is very damaging," guild President Henry Holcomb said. "If they really want to turn the business around, he (Tierney) really has to end a climate of fear."

The newspapers laid off about 100 editorial and advertising workers more than a year ago.