THE GUILDED ERA: It’s looking like a bleak Christmas for journalists at The New York Times and Time Inc.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

At The Times, which is facing 100 newsroom job cuts, journalists, who are members of the Newspaper Guild were asked to file for severance packages by close of business Monday.

According to the Guild, it will be difficult to determine how many journalists take the package — even after the deadline passes.

“Within 24 hours or so, the company will let the participants know if they have been accepted [to receive a buyout],” said Anthony Napoli, the Guild representative for The Times. “But they can change their minds.”

Napoli put that time frame at about 10 business days, or by Dec. 15 or 16. Even then, it will be hard to determine if The Times has hit the 100 mark, as the company has its own list of upper management to whom it has offered buyout packages. Because those managers are not Guild members, the paper does not have to disclose how many have opted for the buyout unless it falls short of the grand total of 100.

A spokeswoman for The Times declined to comment.

Needless to say, the mood within the Times isn’t spirited, but instead feels more like “waiting for the anvil to drop,” according to an insider.

Meanwhile, at Time Inc., Guild members have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against their employer.

The Guild said that Time Inc. violated labor law by implementing new working conditions, even though the two sides had not yet reached a legal impasse. Had negotiations reached an impasse, Time Inc. would be able to implement its proposals.

The action comes after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement, following months of fruitless contract negotiations that could impact more than 200 Time Inc. employees, who are Guild members. In the contract, Time Inc. offered Guild members buyout packages in exchange for the ability to outsource some of their jobs. Last month, the Guild struck down what Time Inc. said was its “last, best and final offer.”

The Guild, which represents more than 2,800 journalists and other employees in the New York area, said Time Inc. has “imposed conditions to enable” it to “replace much of the company’s home-grown journalism with outsourced content, including stories that could be written or edited by subcontractors in low-wage countries.”

“Time Inc. management seems to be willing to degrade the high quality of its magazines by implementing its contract proposals, even though it has no legal right to do so and even though Guild members overwhelmingly voted against them. We hope the NLRB moves quickly on our charges,” New York Guild president Bill O’Meara said.

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