About 350 full-time employees of The Baltimore Sun, 29 percent of those who were eligible, have signed up to leave the newspaper company under a buyout plan, Publisher Michael J. Davies said yesterday.
The offer, which started Nov. 22 and ended at 5 p.m. Tuesday, was a recession-induced effort to reduce staffing without resorting to layoffs, the company said. Because of a grace period in the program, many of the employees who accepted the offer have until next Tuesday to reverse their decisions and remain at the company.
"We are proud that we were able to achieve downsizing in such a humane way," Mr. Davies said.
The number of resignations "reduces the likelihood that the company will need to resort to layoffs to further cut its work force," the company said in a statement.
About 1,200 of the company's 2,000 employees, ranging from maintenance workers to employees in the publisher's office, were offered the buyout. The 800 employees not offered the buyout were primarily involved in the production side of the company, including engravers, printers, pressmen and mailers.
Most employees -- those with the company between two and 14 years -- were offered one year's salary and 85 percent of the cost of medical insurance for a year.
Of 401 eligible news and editorial employees at The Sun and The Evening Sun, 88 workers, or 22 percent of the total, accepted the package. These figures exclude more than 100 employees at the newspapers' suburban editions. In advertising, 48 employees, or 29 percent, of the 164 eligible accepted the buyout. In circulation, 45 of 152 workers, or 29 percent, took the offer.
Meanwhile, editors of both The Sun and The Evening Sun have been working since late last year to merge the news staffs of the two newspapers and the company's county publications and eliminate job redundancy in some departments.
The morning and evening newspapers will continue to publish under separate banners.