Published: Saturday, December 8, 2007
WKBN-TV lays off at least 6 workers
One reporter said he didn't fit into the new owner's
By DON SHILLING
BOARDMAN About a half-dozen workers lost their jobs at WKBN-TV in the second wave of job cuts in the local television market.
Those who were notified of layoffs Friday included two engineers, a photographer, director, receptionist and reporter Joe Bell.
The cuts come as the news operation of WKBN is merged with that of WYTV, which had its own round of cutbacks last week.
Bell, who was a union steward, said workers weren't given a number of jobs that were cut at WKBN but he was aware of the six. There could be more, however, he said.
In addition, he knew of two workers who accepted buyouts and left voluntarily. They were reporter Tricia Perry and a photographer.
David Coy, WKBN general manager, declined to comment.
Bell said he was told he didn't fit into the budget developed by the station's new owners. Workers at the station are paid various amounts based on their experience and position.
"I was a little bit outside their price range," said Bell, who had been at the station 15 years.
He said layoffs were not done by seniority because the union's seniority list was suspended in a recent contract agreement.
It will be back into effect next year, he said.
Bell said his last day was Friday, although he wasn't sure about the other workers who were let go.
He didn't provide specifics on the buyout and severance packages but said they varied based on pay and experience.
He said the buyout offers included health care coverage for a limited time.
New Vision Television of Atlanta bought the station earlier this year from Gocom Communications of Charlotte, N.C. It also reached a deal with the new owner of WYTV, Parkin Broadcasting of Los Angeles, to produce WYTV newscasts for $750,000 a year.
Workers who are affiliated with WYTV newscasts will begin working from WKBN studios Monday, although it's unclear how many that will be.
A union official at WYTV said only about 10 of the union's 50 workers are being retained by New Vision and the rest were terminated. Dave Trabert, WYTV general manager, left a voice mail, however, that said the number of terminations was much less than 40 but added that he couldn't provide the actual number.
Trabert has told WYTV employees that he is leaving the station to return home to his family in Kansas, but he could not be reached Friday.