Friday, November 14, 2003

Purcell, union president speak out. Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell's statement just rolled off the fax machine. It states in full:

Regrettably, it was necessary for the Herald to reduce its workforce. This was accomplished through employee voluntary buyouts, retirements, attrition and the elimination of several positions.

As of Friday, 19 employees have been impacted. Of those 19, 12 full-time newsroom employees accepted buy-out agreements and one part-time newsroom employee was laid off. All impacted employees received a severance package.

A soft economy and increased expenses have caused many in the newspaper industry to take similar action. The Herald worked diligently to minimize the impact on its employees by reducing expenses in other areas throughout the company, and only after exhaustive evaluation of all aspects of our business did this course of action become necessary.

The 19 figure is lower than the 22 being bandied about (by, ahem, Media Log) earlier today.

Lesley Phillips, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston and a Herald staffer, says that 12 of her members were affected. Of them, eight had applied for the buyout and were accepted; two, including the part-timer, were laid off outright; and two whose positions were eliminated have "bumping rights," which means that they could choose to leave or to take other union jobs, a situation that would cause two other employees with less seniority to lose their jobs.

Phillips expressed "sadness" for those who find themselves unemployed, but also had some praise for the Herald. "In the past 48 hours I've been convinced that this company has done what it can to keep the impact low," she told me. "It's just been stressful. It's been a stressful number of weeks. We were waiting for this. Now we go forward and go on to fight another day."

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