Union Says Washington Post "Has Moved to Trim Staff" Amid Shortfall Rumors

Reductions "appear to be small in number," the Guild writes.
Union Says Washington Post "Has Moved to Trim Staff" Amid Shortfall Rumors
Photograph by Flickr user Max Borge.

In a post on the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild’s Facebook page, Guild News co-chair Fredrick Kunkle says the Washington Post has experienced staff reductions “amid rumors about lower-than-expected revenue and budget shortfalls.” The reductions “appear to be small in number,” Kunkle writes, reminding members of the union they have the right to representation in any transaction with management that “sounds as if it could ultimately lead to disciplinary action or dismissal.”

Earlier this month the Post combined its Storyline project with the relatively venerable Wonkblog. It also ended the separate publication of Capital Business in December. “The fact is, the newsroom will continue to see net growth this year,” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti tells Washingtonian in an email. “Ongoing changes in the course of a newsroom’s evolution do not always mean cuts.”

Here’s Kunkle’s post, which also refers to reductions the Post said it would make to retirement benefits.

Folks,

In recent weeks the Post has moved to trim staff amid rumors about lower-than-expected revenue and budget shortfalls.

We can’t speak to the budgetary rumors but we can tell you that we’ve heard about the staff reductions. So far, they appear to be small in number. But, as you might expect, they are of enormous importance to the people who are facing dismissal. So we’d like to remind Guild-covered members of your rights.

In every case that we know of, these employees were blindsided. In one instance, management attempted to stretch the terms of the contract to lay off an employee. In another, management yet again failed to live up to the standards of its performance evaluation system.

Similar to efforts that were more widespread before Amazon multibillionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Post, management cooked up a performance evaluation out of nowhere to try force a buyout. And even in the case of a recent hire who did not have job security because the employee had not served out a probationary period as required by our contract, management could not help tossing in gratuitous – and unfounded – accusations of performance problems.

If this should happen to you, please remember that you are not alone. We’re there for you. We would also like to remind you that if you are called in by your manager for discussion that begins to touch on performance and sounds as if it could ultimately lead to disciplinary action or dismissal, you have the right to politely interrupt the meeting and request that a Guild representative be present.

Finally, we would also like to remind everyone – especially since we’re in the Performance Evaluation period – to take periodic steps to document your work and the impact of your work.

Best,

Freddy

PS: Expect a bulletin soon from the company about how the Guild’s painstaking efforts to fashion a response to the company’s pension grab — a needless move by the Post’s owner that would cost employees here thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, each — is taking so long that the union is depriving everyone of the 1 percent pay raise the company has already offered.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously the news editor and lead media reporter for the Poynter Institute, arts editor for the now completely vanished TBD.com, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.