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Telegraph in Nashua lays off two dozen employees prior to ownership change

HUDSON - About two dozen people were laid off at The Telegraph Wednesday, five days before The Ogden Newspapers Inc. takes over ownership of the daily newspaper.

David Brooks, president of Local 365 of the Communications Workers of America, which represents non-management newsroom employees, said eight employees - a quarter of the newsroom staff - were laid off. He said the employees, who included both union and non-union help, did the work of editors, reporters and photographers.

"They are all key positions," said Brooks, a reporter who did not lose his job. "We are figuring out how to put out the best paper we can with a smaller staff, just like the Union Leader had to do last month when layoffs hit its newsroom."

Messages left for publisher Terrence Williams, whose last day is Friday, and the human resources department were not returned.

The Telegraph employed 99 people, according to another employee who did not want to be identified and who also was rehired before the layoffs.

The employees were fired first and then had to reapply for their jobs, Brooks confirmed. About two dozen people across the newspaper were not rehired.

Brooks said the action taken by Ogden is not unusual when a company is sold. As of midnight Sunday, he said, Ogden takes over, and the old company, which was owned by Independent Publications Inc., no longer exists.

The other employee said one term of the sale was that Ogden did not have to buy the union contract.

The only union-covered employees at The Telegraph were in the newsroom, Brooks said.

Michael Power, community outreach administrator of the state's Office of Work Force Opportunity, said the state's Rapid Response Team (RRT) met with laid-off workers Thursday morning. He did not know how many workers were terminated, but said the RRT is activated usually when 25 or more employees are laid off, although it has been called in when as few as 15 workers are laid off.

He said The Telegraph contacted his office, while Ogden was doing its 90-day due diligence on the finances of the business, to let the state know to expect layoffs.

Ogden is a family-owned company based in Wheeling, W.Va., that currently publishes 40 daily newspapers across 12 states.

Robert Nutting, CEO of Ogden Newspapers, is also the chairman of the board as well as principal owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and owner of the Seven Springs Mountain Resort near Pittsburgh.


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