Times Guild Expected to Approve 5 Percent Pay Cut Tonight; Rep Says Layoffs Are Still Inevitable

nyt050409 Times Guild Expected to Approve 5 Percent Pay Cut Tonight; Rep Says Layoffs Are Still InevitableThe New York Times Guild is expected to approve a plan today that will cut 5 percent of the salaries of reporters and all other Guild members of The Times. Even though reporters were told that the plan was being pushed forward by the Times Company so as to avoid layoffs, union chief Bill O’Meara told Times employees at a meeting this afternoon that layoffs are likely inevitable.

“There are no guarantees that this will save any jobs,” said a source who attended the meeting. “They want to cut 80 jobs, including 70 in the newsroom. All this does is cut the numbers. They are still going to have layoffs.”

When Mr. O’Meara was asked about the layoffs, he said, “I don’t see how there can’t be,” said our source.

Mr. O’Meara said the Times Company wouldn’t give any assurance of protecting the newsroom if this plan is approved, but that it would give full severance packages to those who are laid off in the future. Also, the Times Company will allow reporters to take their forced 10-day vacations anytime between now through the end of next March; originally, they only had through the end of December.

Mr. O’Meara also said that he felt executives at the Times Company were panicking. In the past, they’ve been bulldogs at the bargaining table, but not anymore.

“They came to us hat in hand and said, ‘Please help us with our problems,’” said our source. “They were contrite, begging us to help. It’s worse than we even realized.”

Guild members will be voting throughout the afternoon, and an announcement on the results is expected to be released before 11:59 p.m. tonight.