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.