WaPo Union Approves New Contract; City Paper: This ‘Could Get Nasty’

The Washington Post
Under the new two-year contract, yet to be ratified by the newsroom, managers could identify 25% of employees who wouldn’t fall under the last-hired, first-fired seniority rule.

The Washington City Paper’s take
: “Say the Post decided it needed to trim 10 reporters from its Metro staff. In the seniority-protecting Washington Post, the laying-off would have started with the recent hires—often the young, workaholic types that managers really want to retain. Now, under the unapproved contract, Metro’s top managers would be able to set aside 25 percent of the guild-covered staff and say to them, in effect: Even though you were just hired, you’re protected from the layoffs….If there’s a fresh-faced staffer with great potential, there’s no way editors will have trouble protecting her. And a longer-serving reporter will be out of a job.” And, the City Paper adds, this process would have to be transparent. “Staffers at the various sections would be able to look at a chart detailing just how far down they stand on the layoff depth chart.”

The motives seem murkier than the Pots just trying to protect its star employees, Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University told Bloomberg. “The newspaper could protect only the lower paid employees, for instance.”