[This story has new and additional information for correction and clarity -- Jim McNabb, 7-7-09]
Recently, I ticked off a long list of publications printed by the Austin American-Statesman. Add one more, a big one.
“I can confirm that we will be printing and packaging the Waco Tribune-Herald beginning July 13,” says Michael Vivio, American-Statesman publisher “The Tribune-Herald's circulation is approximately 41,000 on Sunday and approximately 35,000 Monday through Saturday.” Both newspapers are owned by Cox Enterprises.
Losing their jobs in Waco are 25 full-time workers and 18 part-time employees, according to Belinda Gaudet, Tribune-Herald publisher. The Waco print shop is union. The Austin print shop is not union. Of the 43 workers laid-off, approximately half are union members, according to Michael Vivio, Austin American-Statesman publisher. No additional jobs will be added in Austin. "We will transfer/promote three into the pressroom from within our production department. We are trying to not add to our headcount preferring to retrain workers and shift whenever possible," Vivio said.
“Our decision reflects a growing trend throughout the newspaper industry,” Gaudet said. “We believe this change will create significant cost efficiencies and will better position us for success moving forward.”
“The newspaper will continue to be designed in Waco, then sent electronically to the Austin plant, which has a faster and more modern production process. The papers will be packaged with advertising circulars in Austin, then trucked back to Waco and delivered as usual,” Tribune-Herald staff writer J.B. Smith reported in its June 30, 2009 edition.
The Tribune-Herald will offer severance packages for the affected print and packaging workers, continuing base pay and benefits for eight to 26 weeks, depending on longevity, Gaudet said in the June 30th story.
She also said the decision to let go of longtime employees was painful but necessary, given the financial challenges in the newspaper business.
“We realize the impact it has on people’s lives,” she said. “It’s not a decision we make lightly.”
Cox Enterprises is offering both the Tribune-Herald and the Statesman for sale, but that process should not affect the printing contract, Gaudet said. The Tribune-Herald, like the American-Statesman also prints numerous publications in the Waco area, including the Baylor University student newspaper, The Lariat. The newspaper hopes to retain those contracts.
Waco is afloat with rumors of a pending deal to sell the Tribune-Herald. Nothing has been announced yet. Efforts to get comment from Cox Enterprises regarding the sale of the American-Statesman have gone unheeded.
© Jim McNabb, 2009