Philadelphia Daily News gossip columnist Dan Gross resigned Wednesday, effective immediately, as head of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents 550 unionized newsroom, advertising, and other employees of Interstate General Media L.L.C., parent company of The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com.
In a statement issued by the Guild, Gross said he had applied for a voluntary-separation program announced by the company last Thursday and had been approved for a buyout package. His last day at the Daily News will be Feb. 1.
"It would not be prudent, nor fair to the membership for me to . . . take part in any meetings or conversations with Interstate General Media about a future for which I will not be around," Gross said in the statement.
During the last four years, Gross has headed the local, which has about 900 members, including editorial, sales, and other staff at area newspapers owned by Journal Register Co., such as the Delaware County Daily Times and the Pottstown Mercury.
"My decision was not based on fear, but on opportunity. Taking time to explore alternative career interests is what was the right choice for me and my family," Gross said.
The local's executive board appointed Howard Gensler interim president until a new election is held. Currently treasurer, Gensler also writes a gossip column for the Daily News.
Last Thursday, Interstate announced a voluntary buyout package open to all Guild members who work in the news, advertising, circulation, and finance departments.
Last week, the Guild told its members that Interstate had "threatened to liquidate or sell the assets" of the company if it did not reach new tentative contract agreements with its 11 unions, including the Guild, by Friday.
In the Guild statement released Wednesday, the union said Interstate had asked to meet with Guild leaders Thursday to ask the union to reopen its existing contract, which expires in October. The local said it had no more information on any threatened liquidation.
A spokesman said Interstate would have no comment on labor negotiations or the change in Guild leadership.