PORTLAND – Richard L. Connor, chief executive officer of MaineToday Media, announced that 38 full- and part-time employees of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram were notified Thursday that they will be laid off in two weeks.

An additional 23 full- and part-time employees have agreed to take voluntary severance.

Most departments of the newspaper were affected, but the majority of the staff reductions will occur in the news/editorial department. Full-time employees who are being laid off will receive two weeks of severance pay for every year of employment.

Three people employed by the company’s central Maine newspapers, the Morning Sentinel and the Kennebec Journal, accepted voluntary layoffs. There were no involuntary layoffs in central Maine.

Connor attributed the staff reductions to the poor economy and a decline in advertising revenue.

“Our business is inextricably tied to the national economy so, like other companies, we’ve had to confront declining revenue with a downsizing of the work force. Nevertheless, it is difficult to part with talented and loyal employees, some of whom have contributed many years of service to our company, and none of whom is responsible for the economic conditions in which we operate,” Connor said in a prepared statement.

Tom Bell, president of the Portland Newspaper Guild, said 53 Guild positions are being eliminated.

“This is a hard day for all of us, but this is especially devastating news for the people who are losing their jobs, and for their families,” Bell said.

“Despite our disappointment, we are ready to work with the company’s owners to build a future for our newspaper and websites.”

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