New layoffs at The Bee: Who?
Just one work day after union members voted to accept wage cuts and layoffs to postpone even more cuts, The Sacramento Bee started laying off some 128 employees in editorial and other departments Monday morning.
Among the names of those getting pink slips today were pop music writer Rachel Leibrock and sports writer Martin McNeal, as well as general assignment reporters Ramon Coronado, Melissa Nix, Walt Yost, sports writer Scott Howard-Cooper, and photographers Brian Baer and Florence Low. And for virtually the first time since the paper started shedding positions nearly three years ago, there were editors among the casualties.
Also leaving are IT wunderkind and newsroom gadfly Marco Smolich, and longtime newsroom aide George Costenbader.
Coming after the departures of some 65 newsroom employees over the last year through buyouts and attrition, the layoffs further weaken The Bee’s news-gathering operation, bringing the editorial staff down to 190.
A number of positions are also being eliminated in advertising and the classified call center, as well as a graphic artist, an ad assistant and three people in the IT department. Other jobs in the packaging center are also being eliminated.
Early waves of departures have come over the last three years, after buy-out packages were offered to a range of names such as Bob Sylva, R.E. Graswich, Janet Fullwood and other name writers. The cuts have accelerated in the past year: The Bee’s Dale Kasler reported today that the paper has cut 301 jobs since last June, about a quarter of its staff. But unlike earlier rounds, this one featured little to soften the blow.
There could have been even more layoffs, if the Guild members hadn’t voted to accept the company’s latest conditions: 3 to 6 percent salary cuts, and a week’s unpaid furlough, and freezes in pension contributions and 401k matching contributions. Accepting those conditions allowed management to keep 19 other employees on, at least for now.
According to today’s Bee, the news department is losing 29 union and non-union workers, or nearly 13 percent. That brings the total of newsroom jobs shed over the last year to about a quarter of the original 250 employees. Parent company McClatchy is laying off 1600 employees, or 15 percent of its work force.
There’s no guarantee that this will be the end. With McClatchy’s stock under fifty cents a share today (down from a high of $77), the future of the company looks bleak.
It could have been worse. The Rocky Mountain News recently stopped publishing entirely, and both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle are apparently weeks or even days away from doing the same.
Ed Fletcher, a Bee reporter and shop steward for the Newspaper Guild’s unit at the paper, said in an email that he didn’t want to release the names of those being laid off yet, out of respect for their feelings.
But because they are, many of them, public figures whose departure is a loss to Sacramento, their names should be mentioned. So here, pieced together from different sources, is a list of the names of people said to be laid off today at The Sacramento Bee. If you heard other, or different, names, please comment below. Note that these are only half of the people being let go today.