Cleveland Plain Dealer workers prepare for cuts to one-third of newsroom

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Plain Dealer plans to cut 58 positions out of its newsroom staff next year, according to the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild. That's roughly one-third of the guild's 168 members.

"We found out about them in the last few days," said Harlan Spector, of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild. "The company has said that they're going to cut the unionized workforce of the newsroom to 110 next year."

Those members would either be laid off or offered jobs with Cleveland.com. Both the paper and website are owned by Advance Publications.

Plain Dealer employees started a "Save the Plain Dealer" campaign last month as concerns grew Advance Publications would reduce the paper's publication schedule to three days a week, like they've done in other cities.

"I think we're bracing for that, they haven't announced anything yet," Spector said. "We know that they've done that in their other markets. They've cut their newspapers down to three-days-a-week publication.

"We're anticipating an announcement now anytime from the company on that. It certainly does not bode well that they're cutting one-third of the unionized work force at the Plain Dealer."

Word of the cuts came during negotiations with management over the guild's new contract. The current pact, which protected against layoffs, expires early next year.

"The layoffs could be anytime after February," said Spector. "If we do reach an agreement with the company, they wouldn't have them before May 1. If we don't reach an agreement with the company, they could happen before then."

The guild is made up of reporters, photographers, copyeditors and several other positions involved in the daily production of the paper.

Plain Dealer Publisher Terry Egger gave NewsChannel5 the following statement:

"We are currently in discussions with the Newspaper Guild about a possible long-term extension of the current contract and various other issues.  While it is our longstanding policy not to comment publicly on specifics while we are in negotiations, we are hopeful of reaching an agreement with the bargaining unit in the near future."

In the meantime, the guild will continue to let Plain Dealer readers know what they think is coming.

"We've been out there mobilizing our members to get out there and talk to the community. A lot of people in the community have interacted on Facebook and on our petition site," Spector said.

"There's great interest in this city in maintaining a seven-day-a-week paper and a newsroom that is well staffed. People think that's important, we know that and we just hope that Advance Publications, which owns the Plain Dealer, is listening to what the readers and the customers in greater Cleveland want."

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