Earlier this week, the Plain Dealer revealed plans to reduce its staff by one-third, a move that the paper's parent company, Advance Publications, has made in other cities before reducing print publication from daily to just three days per week. Cuts of this magnitude would be devastating to the paper. The Newspaper Guild Local 1 just announced via Facebook that they have reached an agreement with Plain Dealer management that will need to be ratified by the Guild members next week in order to go into effect.
The Newspaper Guild represents reporters, photographers, editors, graphic artists, and other non-executive newsroom staff.
The Guild says that they have fought hard in recent negotiations to prevent or reduce the layoffs of approximately 60 journalists, but were not successful in saving those jobs. A tentative agreement, however, has been reached that will prevent further layoffs.
If the agreement is ratified by Guild members in a vote to take place next week, the contract extension through 2019 would preclude additional large-scale newsroom job cuts through 2019. If the Guild decides instead to reject the agreement, the Plain Dealer has said that 80 or more journalists, which is at least half of the current staff, will be let go in 2013.
The Guild wrote:
"While the forced departure of one-third of our journalists will cause deep, lasting harm to the work of news-gathering, we believe your outpouring of support for the Save The Plain Dealer campaign has helped dissuade the company from making even deeper cuts, and causing even greater community harm, as has happened at the other Advance newspapers."
The tentative agreement covers terms for employees who are laid off and for those who remain. It will also provide for enhanced severance packages for employees that are laid off, as well as some financial relief for the union's underfunded health and pension plans.
Under the terms of the tentative agreement, the Plain Dealer will also be permitted to use content from Cleveland.com in the newspaper.