Yesterday's news that The Oregonian is attempting to slash costs by offering a buyout to every part-time employee in the place was just the latest tremor (or death throe) in the newspaper world; but in light of that announcement, a publisher's memo from last August seems a little...well, prescient.
In summer 2007, the O was going through its second "voluntary retirement offer" in two years. At the time, publisher Fred Stickel said: "This voluntary retirement offer is necessary in order to keep our company payroll in line with revenue. Unlike other companies, we do not reduce the size of the staff through layoffs."
But here's the money quote:
Here at The Oregonian, we are still fully committed to our pledge to regular, full-time employees with regards to job security:
“No full-time, non-represented regular employee will ever be laid off due to economic conditions or the introduction of new technology so long as they successfully complete their probationary period, continue to do their job satisfactorily, are willing to retrain if necessary, and we continue to publish this newspaper.”
There will be no change in our commitments to non-represented full-time, regular employees. We shall continue honoring them in the future, as we have in the past.
Part of me thinks this is laudable and wishes other publishers would go on the record this boldly.
And another part of me thinks that the continued emphasis on "full-time" was a shrewd bit of wiggle room by a company whose corporate eye was on the dying sparrow, even back in summer 2007.
O cynical me.
(By the way: in the 2007 buyout, they gave the buyout-ers a year's salary and full medical and dental benefits to the age of 65, which is by any modern standard pretty generous. I'll be curious to see what they offer up to the part-timers as compared to the old-timers.)