According to several sources at the newspaper who asked that their names not be used because they are not supposed to comment on company policy, the union that represents newsroom staffers refused to agree to skip its 2 percent raise this year. The paper then cut the five positions.
Below is a leaked version of the memo sent by Publisher Tom Silvestri to staff:
To: All Times-Dispatch Employees
On April 2, I regretfully informed you of painful, but necessary, steps The Times-Dispatch was taking in response to our challenging economic conditions: we eliminated 31 open positions and laid off 59 employees across 11 departments that day. I also announced that there would be no pay increases in 2009 for all non-unionized employees.
We also invited the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association to equally participate in our cost-cutting efforts by foregoing the 2009 pay increases in their union contract. We explained to the RNPA, as we explained to everyone, that wage concessions were necessary in all departments to properly align our expenses with our depressed revenues. We also said that, without wage concessions, it would be necessary to achieve the savings through other means, which could include additional layoffs.
Unfortunately, our requests for pay increase concessions were rejected. This was the wrong answer from the RNPA. As a result, today we laid off an additional five employees in the Newsroom to achieve our targeted expense reductions.
I know all of us are working hard to make sure we can weather an extremely tough recession and serve the information needs of our readers to the very best of our ability. You have all been asked to do more with less and you have shown you are not as shortsighted as some in our Newsroom. Your hard work and continued support are greatly appreciated.