Inquirer guild members protest threat to their livelihood: 'They say layoff, we say back off'

Hadas Kuznits
June 26, 2019 - 6:02 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In a show of solidarity, members of The Philadelphia Inquirer staff spent Wednesday protesting the threat of potential layoffs.  

"The institution of a free press in America is presently in a state of crisis greater than many of us have ever seen in our lifetime and perhaps in any moment in this nation's history," said Bill Ross, executive director of NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia.

The NewsGuild is the union that represents Inquirer staffers.

As the Inquirer marks its 190th year, NewsGuild President Diane Mastrull noted that this paper is a part of the city's identity.

"We need Philadelphia to care about what's going on here,” she said. “We need Philadelphia to step up, just like it stepped up to save the Wannamaker organ."

Union members said with more than 20 people already voluntarily taking a buyout, they don't want anyone to lose their job.

"They wanted to divide younger employees from older employees,” Mastrull said. “We stand together to say, 'No Layoffs!' "

Danny Bauder with the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO said the guild has the support of Philadelphia's other unions.

"We've got the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers represented, we’ve got Unite Here, we've got the IBEW, we've got the CWA, we've got the AFGE, Federation of Government Employees out here," Bauder said.

One person has already been let go from her job and another demoted. Guild members are expected to find out at an 11 a.m. meeting Friday, whether there will be any more layoffs at the newspaper.