Re: Houston Chronicle Staffers Facing Buyouts, Layoffs

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Yesterday we relayed

the news

that the Houston Chronicle would be getting rid of five to six percent of its current full-time staff.

Romenesko has a copy of the full memo from Publisher Jack Sweeney. We've included it after the jump, but we'd like to take a quick second to say we've always thought COBRA was just about the worst name ever for health benefits. Seriously.

Memo to Houston Chronicle staffers

Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 8:01 AM Subject: Message from Jack Sweeney

Dear Chronicle Colleague:

It has been a difficult year for our industry and the Houston Chronicle. Revenues are down, considerably, with major expense items like newsprint showing unprecedented increases over the past twelve months.

Unfortunately, as we complete our 2009 Budget Plan, prospects for a turnaround in these critical areas are not evident. Consequently, we will be initiating a job reduction program over the next three weeks, September 8 through September 30. It will consist of two phases:

· A voluntary buyout program involving two weeks pay for each year of Chronicle service, with a maximum payout of 52 weeks. COBRA benefits will be paid through December 31, 2008. Volunteers are asked to contact Human Resources for more information. Employees interested in being considered must complete the attached form and submit it to Human Resources no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 15. These buyouts will be subject to management approval.

· A job reduction program, if necessary, will follow the voluntary buyout program, and be completed by September 30.

Overall, the above plan will result in a 5 to 6% reduction of full time positions as we finalize our 2009 Budget Plan. As we move forward over the coming weeks, I ask for your patience and understanding in these difficult economic times.

Jack Sweeney

-- Keith Plocek

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