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Baltimore Sun looking to buy out up to 25 employees

Management at The Baltimore Sun gave a buyout proposal to the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Wednesday, looking to cut from 20 to 25 positions.

“The company has initiated bargaining today with the guild over the terms of a voluntary buyout offer,” Renee Mutchnik, director of marketing for The Baltimore Sun, said in a statement.

Mutchnik wrote in an emailed response to questions that this is the first voluntary buyout offer since 2008.

The Newspaper Guild will be meeting with management Thursday afternoon to discuss the proposal, said Andrea K. Walker, a business reporter and newsroom chair for The Sun’s guild unit. The buyouts would be voluntary, and 10 of the proposed positions are in the newsroom.

The company is looking to buy out two columnists, two critics, an editorial writer, two copy editors, two design editors and a photographer, Walker said.

The deadline for these buyouts would be Sept. 9, she said.

The newspaper has gone through several rounds of buyouts and layoffs since December 2005.

In addition, the paper, which had eight foreign bureaus in 1987 and five up until the early 2000s, closed its last foreign bureau in 2006.

The Sun is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co., which filed for bankruptcy in December 2008.

In 2008, about 100 jobs were eliminated, including 55 in the newsroom. In February 2009, the paper ended its lease agreements for office space in Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties. Suburban bureau reporters and editors moved into the newspaper’s downtown office. In April 2009, The Sun laid off 61 employees in a week.

In March, members of the union approved a three-year contract extension that will freeze wages for the first two years, while raising the company’s contribution to retirement plans. According to The Sun, the guild represents about 225 employees at the paper. The guild had represented more than 400 employees four years ago, when the last contract had been approved.

The contract increased 401(k) contributions to 3.5 percent of employees’ base pay, from 2.5 percent. After the third year of the contract, employees would be eligible for increases of $10 a week. Based on performance, employees could receive up to an additional $15 per week on average.

6 comments

  1. I didn’t think it could get any worse over there. I guess we are going to see more blogging, re-written press releases masquerading as journalism and more factual errors. Baltimore would be better off without that paper and its opinions, political endorsments, heavy focus on problems and no solutions… I don’t even need to read the paper I already know what it is going to say. Baltimore deserves better!

  2. Couldn’t happen to a better paper. Ever since we lost the News American which was a better paper, the proproganda Sun has been slanting the news, covering up for the corrupt politicians in this state. So it is only fitting that they close their doors, because anything owned by a Chicago firm can’t be honest anyway. Like the late Mayor/Governor/Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said is that paper is only good for eating crabs on or cleaning the windows of a car or home.

  3. The Sun is full of hard-working people trying their best to do good work in a dying industry. I know and have known a lot people who work/worked there and these comments about slanted coverage and agendas are hogwash. I wish those those toiling honorably to make the best of trying circumstances the best.

  4. The collectively unique local presence that was The Baltimore Sun continues to be diminished by the newspaper’s economically and morally bankrupt overseers in Chicago. As usual, the buyouts seem targeted to particular jobs, without naming specific employees — but thumbing through the pages of the morning newspaper, you can try to guess whose voice will next be silenced. Those who rejoice in this continuing tragedy are clueless to the contribution that strong local newspapers make to our society.

  5. John from Minneapolis

    Agreed, Sad. I’ve actually worked with several current Sun employees at other newspapers, including Andrea K. Walker. Without exception, they are smart, hard-working, creative, honorable people. The Internet is full of blowhards who like to dump on their local newspapers. In doing so, they only reveal how they’ve been brainwashed by people who do not have their best interests at heart.

  6. The Chicago Tribune has been pushing around the management at the Sun for too long taking the integrity of their content and revenue down with them. Bad business development plans originating out of Chicago are ruining all of the newspapers in their network. Their tablet idea is another failure in the works.
    Judge Carey, do the citizenry a favor and end their bankruptcy with a fire sale. It’s the only way to recoupe the monies floundered by crooked Tribune management and save what’s left of the institutions involved!

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