Bill McClellan, a columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since 1983, is among nine employees at the newspaper who voluntarily resigned last week, effectively saving the jobs of four reporters and a copy editor who were to be laid off.
The nine are members of the United Media Guild.
The other Post-Dispatch employees who are leaving include reporters Michael Sorkin, Margaret Gillerman, Stephan Thomas, Kenny Roberts, Susan Weich, Bob Kelly and Virginia Young the Post-Dispatch's Jefferson City bureau chief, also took the severance.
Under the terms of the United Media Guild’s collective bargaining agreement, four reporters and a copy editor were reinstated from a June 26 reduction in force after nine members of the Guild applied for voluntary separation and the Post-Dispatch accepted, Guild President Jeff Gordon said in a press release.
The UMG and Post-Dispatch management discussed the possibility of reducing the workforce by offering long-time newsroom employees the opportunity to depart voluntarily and collect severance earlier this year, Gordon said. But after originally seeking volunteers, P-D management changed its mind and announced there would be no voluntary layoffs.
“UMG leaders urged the company to reconsider, since this was an opportunity to ‘clear the decks’ of senior journalists before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement in September,” Gordon said. “We knew we have several members in position to either retire early or move on to other jobs.”
Not long after the company proposed expedited bargaining to extend UMG’s contract, the company announced layoffs — including the four reporters and one copy editor, among other UMG members.
Gordon said this prompted the UMG to revisit the earlier discussions about voluntary departures.
“It became readily apparent we would get enough volunteers to cover the reporters and the editor,” Gordon said.
McClellan will continue to write a Sunday column. His regular column appeared last Friday and Sunday. He will begin writing on Sundays only starting on Aug. 2, after a previously scheduled vacation.
The Post-Dispatch is owned by Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises and reported a second-quarter profit of $2 million, up from $1.7 million a year ago.