An estimated 40 workers — unionized and management — will receive pink slips today from GFR Media Inc., parent company of newspapers El Nuevo Día, Primera Hora and Índice, this media outlet learned.
The newspaper company’s labor group, the United Steelworkers Union Local 135, which met with GFR Media top executives on Monday afternoon, confirmed the layoffs.
Yaphet Torres, president of the union, said the company cited “the economic crisis the newspaper has faced in recent years,” as the reason for the staff cutbacks.
“The layoffs include 23 union members and about the same number of managers, in the areas of editorial, sales and warehouse,” Torres said. “The company is expected to distribute the layoff letters today (Tuesday).”
The latest round of layoffs — the union has reportedly lost about 150 members in the last four years to cutbacks and reorganizations in the editorial and circulation departments — will affect daily publications El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora, but will spare Índice, Torres said.
He explained the company apparently violated seniority clauses with regards to two of the 23 union members to be laid off, but did not address the claim when the union brought it up during the meeting.
“We’re here to defend that seniority clause, make sure there are no contract employees doing the work of those laid off, and that the company pays out the compensation established in the collective bargaining agreement, including severance, unpaid sick days and vacation time,” Torres said. “It they move forward on the seniority clause violations related to the two employees, we will take our claim to the appropriate forums.”
Affected staff — including graphic artists, photographers, audiovisual technicians and warehouse assistants — will reportedly be gathered this morning at 10 to learn their fate, Torres said. GFR Media currently has about 375 unionized workers on its payroll.
“They’re laying off people and affecting working families so they can maintain their own lifestyles during the crisis,” Torres said, adding that more union layoffs are slated for next year when GFR Media will reportedly close its El Día Directo Inc. call center in May 2015 and transfer the service to a new operation it will create under its umbrella.
Attempts to reach GFR Media executives were unsuccessful late Monday.