The Los Angeles Times is facing a wave of outrage over a round of layoffs. The news source is terminating 74 editorial jobs, approximately 13 percent of newsroom staffers. On this list of layoffs are 57 Guild members as well as union leaders spanning several departments.
“We have made the difficult decision to undergo a reorganization and eliminate certain positions within the company,” said Hillary Manning, Vice President of Communications of the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Times Guild leader, Reed Johnson, posted an announcement yesterday expressing the union’s frustration at the sudden “outrageous and reckless” job cuts, stating they were not given proper notice or allowed any attempts to negotiate for its union members.
“We were blindsided by this news. Management did not consult us in advance about other options for cutting costs and saving money, short of layoffs. We have been bargaining a new contract since September, and this was never hinted at during bargaining. The company must discuss alternatives to their unnecessary and short-sighted decision.”
Reed Johnson also pointed out that within the collective bargaining agreement, there is a provision requiring the Los Angeles Times to “offer buyouts to reduce the number of any layoffs,” which the paper did not abide by. Hillary Manning disagreed, saying that layoffs can be executed “before offering voluntary buyouts.”
Kevin Merida, Executive Editor for the Los Angeles Times, notified employees via a memo yesterday stating the decision was “made more urgent by the economic climate and the unique challenges of our industry. Decisions that result in talented staffers losing their jobs are agonizing. We will be saying goodbye to some tremendous colleagues.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, some managers as well as full-time and temporary employees will lose their jobs while most reporting jobs won’t be affected. Production costs are being cut, as are an undisclosed number of production staffers, including photographers, audience engagement editors, and audio producers.
In the last five years, the Los Angeles Times added over 150 new journalists and took a heavy hit during the 2020 pandemic. The company has yet to recover and is refocusing efforts to create a “self-sustaining institution” while cutting staff to around 500 employees.