Chronicle May Cut More Than Half Its Newsroom

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Owners of the San Francisco Chronicle are threatening to cut at least 225 jobs if the union that represents journalists doesn't meet its demands, sources said. Most of the jobs cuts would come from the Chron newsroom. Company negotiators have said that if the Northern California Media Workers Guild decides to agree to their demands, then they will only slash 150 jobs, thereby saving 75 total positions, sources said.

The company demands include giving up seniority rights and slashing vacation, sick time, and maternity/paternity leave. The company also wants the union to allow it to oustsource some jobs to nonunionized employees. Seniority is viewed as one of the key issues, because the company does not want to only lay off newer, lower paid employees.

Under the current guild contract, layoffs occur in order of length of service with the company. Typically, the longer a journalist has been with the company, the higher they are paid. The company's demands are sure to divide the newsroom between younger, lower paid journalists, and older, higher paid ones.

If the union does not agree to the company's demands, then the Chron would cut about 225 of the 460 total guild positions in the company, sources said. There are about 225 guild-represented employees in the newsroom. But if the guild agrees to the demands, then 150 total people would by layed off out of 460, sources said.

The company's job cut demands appear to mean that the possible sale or closure of the paper has been put on hold for now. Neither union official Carl Hall nor Chron publisher Frank Vega immediately returned phone calls seeking comment.

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