Negotiations have failed to produce a new contract for Guild workers at the Mercury News and management plans to layoff 101 employees on Monday night and Tuesday morning. According to the Guild Web site, managers will call business-side employees at their homes on Monday night between 6:30 and 8:30 to tell them they have been laidoff. Editorial staffers will be called Tuesday morning between 8 and 10 at home. All newsroom personnel have been told to stay home during those hours on Tuesday.

Laid-off employees will lose access to their computers when they are told they’re losing their jobs, so the Guild has advised its members to “retrieve all personal files and information from the Mercury News computers and store them on a non-Mercury system” before the ax falls.

Had the union been able to reach a contract deal with management, the company would have reduced the number of union workers laid off from 69 to 42. Of the total 101 to be laidoff, 40 jobs will come from the newsroom.

    Merc executive editor Susan Goldberg (right) told employees that she decided to call people at home instead of doing it at the office to avoid publicly embarrassing the laid-off employees, according to the East Bay Express. “But her plan has some people wondering whether her real motive is to avoid possible major disruptions at the paper when staffers learn who gets the ax,” wrote Express blogger Robert Gammon, a former ANG union leader.

Gammon also notes that the union plans to challenge the legality of the layoffs in court, saying the company didn’t provide the required 60 days advance notice. The union’s argument is when the company announced the layoffs, it used the word “may” instead of “will.”

SF Press Club News

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