The Indy News Guild challenged separate job cuts ordered by Gannett at
the Indy Star in August and December using the grievance clause in our
Contract. The company denied those grievances, and the Guild —
working with our national and regional advisers — has made progress
as we have sought to take the matters to arbitration.
From the August layoffs: four of the five people laid off were the
most recently hired within their job classification. The Guild
determined one employee was improperly laid off. That person chose to
accept a settlement rather than continue with the arbitration. Thanks
to Guild intervention, the employee will receive 13 additional weeks
of severance (on top of the original 26) and an extension of medical
benefits through May.
Regarding the Dec. 3 layoffs, a representative from the international
Newspaper Guild who will present our case to an arbitrator came to
Indianapolis on Jan. 27 and interviewed seven former employees. Our
representative determined all seven have strong cases to assert they
were laid off improperly. What the Guild will be seeking for all seven
is that they get their jobs back and that they receive all back pay
from the time their severance runs out until they are rehired. The
Guild and the company have agreed on an arbitrator to hear this case.
The hearing and ruling on this arbitration are still several months
Just a reminder on the Guild’s position on both rounds of layoffs so
far and any that might come in the future. Our position is not a hard
and fast “last hired, first fired” but rather that the seniority
clause in our contract is followed. Once the company decides how many
reporters, page designers, copy editors, etc., it wants to lay off,
then the employees with the least Star experience in those jobs are
laid off. The contract also protects talented newcomers, allowing
exceptions to seniority for “outstanding ability.”
After the layoffs are done by seniority, the company then can move its
remaining employees around from section to section to fill its needs.
In December, the company did it backwards. It targeted long-time
employees for layoffs, then moved other employees working on other
sections and in other jobs to fill these vacancies.
The Guild position is that a reporter is a reporter, a copy editor is
a copy editor, a photographer is a photographer and so on. Employees
with these skills can work on news, sports, business, features or
indy.com. Many of our current employees have worked and currently work
on more than one section for the paper, its other publications and the
The company apparently agrees with our position. It chose to
move people around from section to section, from zones to downtown,
from the copy desk to reporting, but only after ignoring the seniority
rights written into our contract.
— The officers and stewards of Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070