Commercial Appeal Cuts at Least 17 Employees

The Commercial Appeal is planning another round of layoffs.

In an email to members Tuesday, Aug. 28, Memphis Newspaper Guild president Wayne Risher announced that The Commercial Appeal is eliminating 17 guild-covered jobs as part of a “planned reduction in force.”

The jobs include 15 positions in the circulation customer service department and two in advertising. The employees will be paid through Sept. 7 and remain under company health insurance through the end of September.

“The company says the reductions are part of an effort to standardize operations across all Scripps newspaper properties,” wrote Risher, a 29-year reporter at The Commercial Appeal, Cincinnati-based The E.W. Scripps Co.’s largest circulation newspaper.

The letter said the circulation work had been outsourced as of 11 a.m. Monday to Circseller, a customer service call center outsourcing business. The advertising work will be outsourced to a company in India. Both firms have worked with The Commercial Appeal in the past.

The layoffs come after nine guild-covered employees (and allegedly several non-guild members) lost their jobs in December. In June, Scripps named George H. Cogswell III as the new publisher of The Commercial Appeal, a week after his predecessor Joe Pepe left the company.

The Memphis Newspaper Guild is a 75-year-old labor union that represents The Commercial Appeal journalists, as well as employees in departments ranging from advertising to accounting and maintenance. The guild is an affiliate of Communications Workers of America.

“It’s only because of the Newspaper Guild that the Commercial Appeal is a decent place to work; the stronger the Guild, the better the workplace will be,” Risher explains on the group’s representative page. “Take away the Guild and it would be a terrible place to work.”

Here is the letter in its entirety:

August 28, 2012

Dear Memphis Newspaper Guild members,

The Guild received details this morning on a planned reduction in force by The Commercial Appeal.
Regrettably, the company is eliminating 17 guild-covered jobs.
These include 15 positions in the circulation customer service department and two in advertising.
The company planned to begin meeting with affected employees immediately.
They would be paid through Sept. 7 and remain under company health insurance through the end of September.
Human resources director Eunice Johnson and Warren Funk said the circulation work is being outsourced to Circseller, a customer service call center outsourcing business that has handled overflow calls for the CA in the past.
The advertising work is being outsourced to a company in India that has provided advertising design services in the past.
Because outsourcing is involved, affected employees will qualify for two weeks pay in their severance packages.
The company says the reductions are part of an effort to standardize operations across all Scripps newspaper properties.
The newspaper’s customer service calls were switched over to Circseller as of 11 a.m. Monday.
The company also said that the newspaper will no longer have circulation customer service personnel staffing the front desk at the main office at 495 Union. Instead, customers will find a telephone with an automated menu and can request to meet with someone face to face if they need to.
The company said the affected employees would have an opportunity to apply for two positions currently open: a full-time distribution coordinator and a part-time classified representative.
The Newspaper Guild is putting together a help session for the departing employees from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the guild office in the EmergeMemphis Building at 516 Tennessee Street in Downtown Memphis. We will have people speaking about coping with layoffs, job searching and networking and personal finance.
Anyone wanting more information, please feel free to call me at 901-481-1829.

Sincerely,

Wayne Risher
President
The Memphis Newspaper Guild

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