Jul 29, 2013 5:40 PM
BATON ROUGE | The Advocate newspaper announced Monday that it hopes to reduce full-time employment by 5 percent through a buyout offer to employees who have 15 or more years with the newspaper.
General manager Dan Shea said the move will not affect the Baton Rouge-based newspaper's aggressive move into New Orleans, where it has added staff and is producing a daily home-delivered edition. That move began last year under the previous owners, the Manship family, as The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reduced its home-delivered print edition to three days a week.
New Orleans businessman John Georges continued the push when he purchased The Advocate earlier this year.
The Times-Picayune has since added back several days of editions for newsstand sales.
Under the buyout plan announced Monday, Advocate employees would get one week of pay per year of service, with a maximum of 26 weeks. Employees would have full coverage of health benefits until the end of the year and accrued vacation would be paid.
The newspaper is not offering the buyouts to employees in circulation and the press room, to information technology staff, sports reporters, advertising sales managers, electrical maintenance supervisors or production superintendents.
The buyout goal is 19 employees, the newspaper says, based on fulltime employment of 380 when Georges bought the newspaper in May.
If not enough employees take the offer, involuntary layoffs are possible.
Shea, one of several former Times-Picayune employees hired under Georges, said in an interview that the buyout offers come after the new management took time to analyze each department at the newspaper. "We were just trying to catch it up slowly to the current reality of the business," he said.
"It is natural for any new owner to take a look at how and why we are doing things," said a notification posted for employees Monday. "Our goal is to create a company that is technologically nimble, customer driven and a powerful source of news and advertising online and in print.
"We expect over the months ahead that many jobs here will be impacted. Some employees may prefer not to go through retraining or transfers," the statement to employees said.
Eligible employees have until Sept. 12 to apply for the buyout. Those accepted would be notified by Sept. 19.