As expected, today (May 26) was the Union-Tribune's layoff announcement date. According to whispers among employees at the company, 179 employees got a layoff notice, but that is not confirmed. I could not get a response from the company. Thus far, editorial employees — reporters, editors, desk workers and the like — appear to have escaped the head-chopping.
Employment of 53 members of the Graphics Communication Conference International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 432M (GCIU) was terminated permanently, according to a letter that Russ Newton, president and chief operating officer, wrote to the union.
"These layoffs are due to the acquisition of the company by Tribune Publishing LLC, with the decision to consolidate certain company operations with the Los Angeles Times," said the letter. This was a certainty, because the parent, Tribune Publishing, had already said that the printing will take place in Los Angeles, and the papers will be trucked to San Diego. Also, Doug Manchester, former owner of the U-T, will retain the building in which printing takes place.
"The position elimination layoffs of GCIU members on the separation date will be permanent, and will be one of a number of position elimination layoffs," said the letter. The layoffs fit the definition of a "plant closing" under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, said the letter. The move will also fit the definition of a "mass layoff," said the letter. There is no chance the press-room union employees could be recalled, said the letter.
The press-room layoffs will be official at end of day July 26, 2015, or two months from today. Normally, WARN notices must be filed with the State of California two months before they take place. But the last state WARN notice currently listed is May 21. Presumably, the Union-Tribune layoffs will be listed in a forthcoming update.
Newton wrote a letter today to employees. It said, "Today we are making significant changes to begin the integration of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times…. Unfortunately, as we have discussed in the last two weeks, some of these changes will be difficult and painful. A number of layoffs are being announced today, as we find the most cost-effective way to do business together. For those of you who will be leaving the company, thank you for years of dedication."