Fishbowl6thBorough: Are Layoffs Coming To Philly Papers?

We do not envy employees at the Company Formerly Known As Philadelphia Newspapers LLC. Now that the company has been successfully sold off to its lenders at auction, some at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com are unsure about the state of their job security.

The company’s new owners haven’t exactly done much to quell those fears, seeing how they recently sent staffers a letter warning about possible layoffs… and then claiming no one had anything to worry about. So: Huh?

The owners maintain that the letter, which stated that it served as notification that the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act applies to any future action the company takes regarding layoffs, was merely “procedural” and that they do not currently plan of instating any layoffs at the company. The WARN Act (nice!), by the way, states that employers are required to give 60 days’ notice in the case of mass layoffs.

The letter included a note from Brian P. Tierney, chief executive officer of Philadelphia Newspapers LLC. Tierney, you may recall, went head to head against the company’s lenders during the auction, taking particular issue with a provision that would have required “the media firm’s employees to be fired with a guarantee that only just more than 50 percent would be rehired.” In his letter, Tierney wrote that the notice was sent out “with a heavy heart, but at the direction of the prospective owners.”

Again, Robert J. Hall, the former publisher of the Inquirer and the Daily News who has now been named chief operating officer, assures everyone that, despite the nature of the letter, there is nothing to fear:

Our intention is still exactly the same as it was before. There will be no massive layoffs when we take over the company.

The letter is a procedural letter. It was agreed they would send it out up at the auction in New York. The old company goes out of business that day and we start anew.

I’m a savvy guy and I have no idea what Brian is trying to say.



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