Oprah’s Harpo Studios May Cut More Than 100 Staffers

Jun 9, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-based production company Harpo Studios has revealed plans to cut as much as one-third of its staff, which would be more than 100 workers, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.

According to the report, " ‘Employees are being notified on a departmental basis whether their jobs will be eliminated,’ a Harpo spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. ‘Most of those leaving us are doing so voluntarily to pursue other interests.’ The spokeswoman declined to say how many jobs will be cut but acknowledged that it could be a third of the staff, which is the percentage that triggers a filing with the state."

The story adds, “ ‘The process started on or about May 25 and is going on throughout the summer months,’ [the Harpo spokesperson] wrote. ‘We are tracking on a daily basis the number of employees who have accepted new positions or leave voluntarily vs. those who . . . suffer an ’employment loss’ within the meaning of the law. . . . All employees were made aware of this rightsizing months ago.’ ”

The production company filed a notice with the state of Illinois about the the potential cuts, since the state requires employers with more than 75 full-time workers to give at least 60 days’ notice to their employees if they plan a mass layoff. A mass layoff is considered to be 25 or more full-time employees if they make up one-third or more of the site’s workers, the article notes.

About 400 employees, both full-time and part-time, worked at Harpo at the end of 2010, the article notes. Prior to that, about 50 employees moved from Harpo to work for the Los Angeles-based Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN.

Winfrey recently ended her weekday syndicated show after 25 years on air.

The Crain’s story adds, "In December, Harpo Co-president Erik Logan told Crain’s that he expected employees to remain at work after Ms. Winfrey’s show ended at the end of May. He said they would move to shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Harpo told employees in March that former talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell would start taping a new, one-hour daytime show in Harpo studio space. The show will run on OWN."

Crain’s Chicago Business, like TVWeek, is owned by Crain Communications.

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