CLEVELAND — After months of negotiations with the newspaper's union, The Plain Dealer is expected to lay off 14 journalists today as the 180-year-old institution downsizes.
This comes after months of negotiations from members of the Plain Dealer unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild Local 1, with the company to extend the Guild’s contract with The Plain Dealer through Feb. 28, 2021, which continues important protections for overtime, vacation and severance pay, according to the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild.
For the journalists who are being laid off today, and those whose jobs will be outsourced in early May, the agreement will provide the option to extend health care benefits.
The Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild provided News 5 the following statement:
"This has been an incredibly challenging few months for our members, all of whom continued to produce excellent journalism amidst so much uncertainty and stress. Fortunately, we were able to come to a deal that provides some benefit to everyone. That's because we have a union. Without the Guild, we wouldn't have had a seat at the table to advocate for our members," said PD News Guild unit chair Ginger Christ. "We will continue to fight for our members, for our unit and for the community, which deserves great journalism and a free and independent press."
The news is a devastating blow for the journalists who dedicated decades to the paper and the community of Greater Cleveland.
Longtime sportswriter Dennis Manoloff said today was his last day at the paper.
My time at @ThePlainDealer has ended. Since Day 1 on Aug. 20, 1990, I worked as hard as I could and was blessed with uninterrupted employment at a great paper, doing what I enjoyed. My colleagues and bosses were/are fantastic. I am @ThePlainDealer for life.— Dennis Manoloff (@dmansworld474) April 1, 2019
Cleveland Scene's Sam Allard is reporting that some of the paper's most experienced journalists have also been laid off. You can read Scene's story here.
Journalists who work at the paper took to Twitter to share their thoughts.
14 professional journalists lose their jobs tomorrow between 8 and 10 am (we’ve been told to wait by the gone because our editors think that’s the best way to ruin lives). Please keep my colleagues and me in your thoughts— chuck yarborough (@mrteksun) April 1, 2019
So sad to see such a great writer & one of my favorite people leaving The Plain Dealer. What a loss, paper won’t be the same w/out you Dman https://t.co/1aAqovBoTp— John Petkovic (@johnpetkovic) April 1, 2019
There are a lot of great journalists and editors who work at The Plain Dealer. Wishing them strength as they go through a tough, tough day today.— David Campbell (@illibuck9) April 1, 2019
Former colleagues also shared their thoughts about the layoffs.
My thoughts are with my former Plain Dealer colleagues at this hour as the go or stay phone calls go out. I went through two of those before retiring. So wrong that this is happening again.— Bill Livingston (@Livy70) April 1, 2019
Dwindling advertising revenue was cited as a major driving force in the decision to eliminate positions. This comes on the coattails of an announcement in December that the paper was moving to a centralized system to proof and publish national stories shared across various other newspapers.
Read the full statement from the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild:
After months of difficult negotiations, members of The Plain Dealer unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, Local 1, came to an agreement Friday afternoon with the company. The agreement, which members voted to ratify in a vote over the weekend, extends the Guild's con-tract with The Plain Dealer through February 28, 2021, and continues important protections for over-time. vacation and severance pay. It also eliminated furlough days, which on average will return $2,700 to each member annually. For those who are laid off from the newsroom on April 1 and whose jobs will be outsourced in early May, the agreement provides the option of extended health care benefits. The Plain Dealer also agreed to explore ways to make sure our newsroom reflects the diverse community we serve. There's nothing that can make up for losing the jobs of 35 journalists, many of whom have dedicated decades to the newspaper and to the Greater Cleveland community. The Guild was in the position of trying to come to an agreement that would benefit all of its members -- those whose jobs are being eliminated and those who will be left behind. In making this deal, the Guild gave up a grievance over whether The Plain Dealer had the right to outsource the jobs to Advance Local, a subsidiary of its parent company, Advance Publications. The Guild did not give up its ability to pursue similar grievances in the future, and it maintains that Advance Local and Advance Ohio, which operates cleveland.com. are not completely separate entities from The Plain Dealer. "This has been an incredibly challenging few months for our members, all of whom continued to pro-duce excellent journalism amidst so much uncertainty and stress. Fortunately, we were able to come to a deal that provides some benefit to everyone. That's because we have a union. Without the Guild, we wouldn't have had a seat at the table to advocate for our members," said PD News Guild unit chair Ginger Christ. 'We will continue to fight for our members, for our unit and for the community, which deserves great journalism and a free and independent press."