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21 Accept Buyouts at Inquirer and Daily News; 19 More Workers To Be Laid Off

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(The former headquarters of the Inquirer and Daily News.  File photo by William Thomas Cain/ Getty Images)

(The former headquarters of the Inquirer and Daily News. File photo by William Thomas Cain/ Getty Images)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  The owners of Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers say they are preparing to lay off 19 employees after another 21 workers took an offered buyout before yesterday’s deadline.

Meanwhile, the union that represents workers at the Inquirer and Daily News is challenging the layoffs.

In a sharply worded statement, Newspaper Guild president Dan Gross and executive director Bill Ross challenge not only the need for layoffs but also the management of the company by publisher Greg Osberg.

“Perhaps instead of killing stories he didn’t like about the sale of the company,” it reads, “Osberg should be focused on properly staffing the newspapers in a manner that will allow more copies to be sold.”   That’s a reference to a story about the company that was removed from its web site on orders of management (see related story).

The Guild says its contract allows layoffs only for “good and reasonable” cause, which it says the company does not have.

Company spokesman Mark Block disagrees.

“In order to operate day to day, these reductions in staff had to be made,” he told KYW Newsradio.    “And if they were not having to be made, we certainly would have avoided it.”

He declined to comment on the accusations against Osberg.

“There’s a lot of real successes in the company, but we’re not going to get into the back-and-forth of going line by line, challenging the announcement of the Guild,” Block said.

One position that appears to be safe for now is that of the Daily News’ Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Signe Wilkinson.  She had been told earlier that her job was targeted for elimination, but the staff rallied around her.

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