August 22nd, 2008 | by News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Oregonian Announces Buyout Package (Updated with documents)

Tags: media

Let the buyouts at The Oregonian begin.

Let's parse some of the language in the voluntary buyout announcement by Oregonian publisher Fred Stickel:

STICKEL: Citing a deteriorating financial picture, Stickel said the work force must be reduced by a minimum of 100 full-time positions and an unspecified number of part-time positions.

WHAT THAT MEANS: Oregonian insiders say 50 of those 100 are coming from the newsroom, though it remains unclear if that number includes people who have already left the paper this year.

STICKEL: The buyout offer is voluntary and gives employees with more than 10 years' experience two years of pay and two years of company-paid health care for themselves and dependents. It will be administered by seniority. As a matter of policy, The Oregonian does not use involuntary layoffs of fulltime employees to reduce staff.

WHAT THAT MEANS: A very generous offer—two years health care for employees and their dependents—compared with other buyouts at daily newspapers across the country. But seniority means a lot of people who might be tempted by that generous offer won't be able to take it because others who have been there longer will jump the line.

STICKEL: The Oregonian has 1,120 full- and part-time employees. In the newsroom, there are 270 full-time and about 90 part-time employees. "Despite this reduction in staff we will be adequately staffed and will publish outstanding products for our readers and advertisers, in print and online," Stickel said.

WHAT THAT MEANS: Taking 50 full-time people and an unspecified number of part-timers out of a newsroom with 360 full- and part-time employees is a big hit—especially if they're the experienced journalists with the deepest knowledge of their beats.

Here are the documents that employees got today:

Among them, this letter (PDF) from Stickel that gives employees until Oct. 6 to accept the offer with the ominous note that the offer won't be repeated and that employees who remain may "be asked to take on additional duties, transfer to another job or location, work in another department, or work different hours.'

Stickel's letter also has details of the offer to part-timers — a “severance package” of two weeks pay per year of service and one year of continued medical coverage for the employee. (in comparison to the offer to full-timers of continued medical coverage for two years and their dependents.)

And the publisher's letter concludes with the statement "In closing, I repeat we have a serious financial situation here--by far the most serious in my 41 years as Publisher/General Manager. I strongly urge you to carefully consider the offer we are making. We need a significant number of you to accept."

Other documents include paperwork like this (PDF) and this (PDF).

There's also this list (Excel) of who's eligible.
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