Associated Press staffers are preparing for what could be 70- to 80 layoffs today, as reports are seeping out regarding growing anxiety about possible cuts. Gawker cites an unidentified tipster and an AP staffer who say the layoffs will be discussed at a meeting in New York. So far, word of the job cuts at the wire service are still at the rumor stage, though the din surrounding layoffs are rising.
Tony Winton, president of the guild that represents 1,300 of the AP’s total 4,100 staffers, tells E&P that employee groups around the country have been told to assemble throughout the day. Several AP sources tell paidContent that that they mostly feel in the dark, but pretty much everyone there says they expect to be told of staff reductions.
In terms of numbers of guild job losses, a union rep says that the AP is required to provide a formal number of members who are singled out for dismissal. That isn’t likely to come until late tonight,
Paul Colford, an AP rep, declined to address the Gawker report or the rumors. Speaking in general terms, he referred to AP President and CEO Tom Curley’s announcement last November that the goal was to reduce global payroll costs — not necessarily headcount — by 10 percent in 2009. He wouldn’t go further than that, but some AP staffers have wondered if the company will announce more buyouts — about 100 staffers accepted packages to leave the company last summer — or institute salary cuts.
Update: For the 1,300 guild members, wage cuts and givebacks on benefits aren’t going to happen. In fact, the contract the AP and the guild hammered out last year calls for members to get a wage increase on Dec. 1. So in terms of cutting payroll, there’s a lot of things that come under that heading. Sources tell paidContent that the AP expects to slash budgets for stringers. Plus, the company’s other staffers, such as managers and administrative assistants, will also likely bear the brunt of the cuts, since they are outside the guild’s protection. So far though, the guild has been trying to keep up with calls from AP staffers who have been told they are being let go.
Update 2: By the end of the day Tuesday, the AP itself reported that 38 guild members were given pink slips; it was not immediately known how many staffers outside the guild were let go.
Update 3: The guild called it “Black Tuesday” at the AP, where the final guild tally of the layoffs was 57 employees received termination notices earlier in the day. The list includes 33 newspersons, 19 editorial assistants, and five photographers — but the list does not include the non-guild members. More details in this release.