Alden Global Capital offers employee buyouts two days after buying Tribune Publishing

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Alden Global Capital has begun offering Tribune Publishing employees buyout offers just two days after completing its $630 million acquisition of the company.

The Chicago Tribune reported its nonunion newsroom employees received a voluntary separation plan Wednesday, and a source familiar with the buyouts said similar plans were being offered to people across the Tribune platform.

An Alden spokesman declined to comment on the buyouts. But the Chicago Tribune reported that nonunion eligible staffers with three-plus years of service could get 12 weeks of pay and an extra week for every year with the company.

Those with less than three year’s of employment would get eight weeks of pay. 

Buyouts for represented employees must be negotiated with each of the 13 union chapters of NewsGuild Communications Workers of America that represents employees at the various Tribune papers.

“We’re hearing that buyouts were offered today,” said Sally Davidow, a spokesperson for the guild. “The company has a legal obligation to negotiate with our union members over the terms of any buyout offer. That just began with today’s announcement.”

“It’s clear that Alden sees Tribune Publishing as a debt-free company from which it can extract more cash,” Davidow added. “It is a vulture fund that strip-mines local news organizations and undermines our democracy.” 

The source who confirmed the buyouts said Alden is focused on reducing expenses outside the newsroom and that any newsroom buyouts would be voluntary. The source also said Alden’s goal was to preserve the newsroom.

Tribune Publishing shareholders voted to accept the offer Friday, ending hopes that a pro-journalism benefactor would step in and prevent the deal.

This story was updated at 4:01 p.m.

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