Newspaper Guild: Free Press can’t force staffers to reapply for jobs

Gannett, the media company that owns the Detroit Free Press, is forcing employees at some newspapers to reapply for new jobs as part of a bold cost-cutting move.

But at least for now, that won’t happen at the Free Press, editors were told in a meeting Wednesday.

Stefanie Murray, who until recently worked at the Free Press, is now the executive editor of the Gannett-owned Tennessean, where she told employees Tuesday that they will have to reapply for fewer available jobs.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is following suit, according to media blogger Jim Romenesko. Other Gannett newspapers have announced similar restructuring plans.

But the Free Press won’t be joining the parade because the newspaper has something the others do not – a labor union.

“I am not super concerned right now,” said Detroit Newspaper Guild Administrative Officer Lou Grieco. “They have to go by the layoff structure, and they can’t just pick and choose who they are going to bring back.”

The guild’s contract with the Free Press spells out how employees must be fired and laid off. The contract, for example, requires “just and sufficient cause” for termination. And if employees are laid off, they must be let go based on seniority. They also must be rehired based on seniority.

Check out the contract here.

Free Press Editor Paul Anger couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Gannett announced on Monday that it was splitting its print and broadcast business.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Errol Satz

    I’m still mourning the fact that McClatchy dumped the Freep after it acquired Knight Ridder. Gannett is not my friend. As much as I appreciate MCMuckraker, and other varied alternative sources of information, I still really miss having a good hardcopy local daily to peruse. It seems to be that it’s not so much that newspapers cannot be profitable, but that they cannot be ridiculously, wildly, fabulously well-to-do huge money-makers. And it’s a damn shame.

    • Just a note that the Free Press was sold to Gannett before KR sold the rest of the chain to McClatchy.

  • Barbara Ingalls

    There are so many reasons to support the unions at the papers, here is yet another one.

    • ThePeopleofDetroit

      Agreed. Unions counteract the interests of capital. Its hard to imagine a balance between workers and owners without unions.

      • Oberyn_Martell

        I’ve never met a union management didn’t deserve. There are lots of examples where companies are managed ethically and treat their employees with respect. It just isn’t newsworthy.