Restructuring Continues At Dow Jones
A Week Of Layoffs For IAPE Members
It has been a week of layoffs amid an ongoing restructuring effort at Dow Jones & Company.
With the fiscal year end just a month away, the Company is continuing to cut costs where it deems necessary. This week, those cuts included the elimination of 33 IAPE-represented positions in Professional Information Business (PIB) and another eleven Union jobs in Circulation.
An additional six IAPE-represented positions were eliminated at Barron's Circulation, Sales and News departments.
Under the terms of the IAPE/DJ collective agreement, Dow Jones must provide the Union with at least 30 days' notice in advance of any layoff, with 45 days' required when fewer than all positions in a particular title — in a single department at a particular location — are eliminated. With June 30 as the end of the Dow Jones fiscal year, and the knowledge that management prefers to have most layoff decisions made in advance of the new fiscal year, May 15 and 30 are two dates that often cause concern for IAPE representatives.
"Our members know that this is layoff season," said Union executive director, Tim Martell. "This is always a time of upheaval for IAPE-represented departments, and I suspect some managers are concerned about losing their jobs too. At the IAPE office, we'll be busy making sure that the Company has followed the seniority provisions of our contract, and that members receive the severance and layoff benefits our contract requires."
"It is unfortunate and a shame that our members have to pay the price for mismanagement at the top," said IAPE President Bob Kozma. "Our members don't get to make the decisions yet they have to pay the price for others' mistakes."
"Who knows how many employees would have been 'made redundant' if they were at-will employees and didn't have the protection of a collective-bargaining agreement to help protect them," Kozma added.
The IAPE contract provides for at least two weeks' pay for every year of service, with additional salary for employees on the early and later ends of their Dow Jones careers. An IAPE-represented employee laid off after more than nine months on the job must receive at least six weeks' pay, while veterans begin accruing additional severance after 20 years, with a one-year cap on severance pay after 24 years of continuous service.
IAPE-represented employees laid off from Dow Jones are also entitled to continued medical coverage — one month for each year of service, up to a maximum of twelve months' coverage. Other negotiated layoff benefits include retraining allowances and outplacement assistance.
Seniority is determined by an employee's Dow Jones hire date, relative to others holding the same title, in the same department, at the same location. Union-represented employees with less than two years of service are considered to have the same seniority, while those with more than two years at Dow Jones are in the same seniority "pool" as colleagues hired within one year of each other.
"We have 45 days to file grievances if we identify any contract violations related to these layoffs," said Martell. "We haven't spotted any problems yet."
The cuts announced this week bring the total of IAPE-represented positions eliminated through layoff or reorganization in 2015 to 96. In comparison, Dow Jones eliminated 48 Union jobs all of last year, 51 in 2013, 81 in 2012, 89 in 2011 and 43 in 2010.
"2009 was our last really big layoff year," explained Martell. "We lost more than 150 members that year, including many News positions in Boston and New York."
However, Martell went on to explain that Dow Jones continues to hire new Union-represented employees even this year. "We've had 126 new IAPE-represented employees either hired or transferred into IAPE positions so far this year," he said.
The continued restructuring of Dow Jones may be another indication of how much damage the Company suffered during the two-year tenure of former CEO Lex Fenwick. Managers were recently instructed to "review work to find ways to save money and to identify non-essential tasks." Among the less noticeable items targeted for change at Dow Jones: the employee service awards program, which likely will be revised to offer award gifts only to employees who reach ten-year milestones, rather than the current five-year cycle.
Management expects that move to save $100,000 annually.
In November of last year, Dow Jones announced it was shutting down local-language news products in Germany and Turkey, a radio broadcasting unit and a Sunday insert in partner newspapers. CEO Will Lewis, who replaced Fenwick in January of 2014, said at that time, "It will come as no surprise that in order to do even more, we must do fewer things that are not core to our business so that we can move faster in pursuit of our goals."