Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Involuntary layoffs in the next 2 weeks?

From comments:
"We've already had involuntary layoffs at our paper and were told to expect more in the next two weeks. Apparently they are looking at other places to cut first... though I'm really not seeing any as that we've already outsourced just about everything that can be outsourced and cut our bureaus. We're having a meeting to discuss other ways to save money today -- as if we underlings would know more than the higher ups who have the actual numbers..."

Previous post on involuntary layoffs here.


Anonymous said...

Which newspaper is this?

Anonymous said...

Yikes, Furlough inside info-

Indy Star
Furlough protocol

Here is some clarification from a Star insider about the furlough system Gannett is initiating, in an effort to save jobs:

Employees on furlough can park in the garage, but they cannot go in the Star building.

Employees can go to the Credit Union, but they cannot go into the Star building.

If an employee has to pick up a paycheck, he/she must park in the lot and someone from payroll will bring out the check.
More @ http://ruthholladay.com/

Anonymous said...

I'm too scared to say which paper just because our publisher reads this site constantly... and I'm trying not to be on the chopping block. I will say that our management has said these cuts will be soon and very, very deep -- and not limited to our paper.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean that you had invol. cuts this week and there are more coming in 2 weeks or just that they have done cuts before - like 2 months ago or something? Just trying to figure out if they're doing cuts now in 2 rounds instead of all at once.

Anonymous said...

Wow, check this out...

Free Daily, Free Writers
A Toronto free daily newspaper has laid off all of its staff writers – but it won't be without copy for its pages because it will be using non-paid interns instead.

Metro, which has published in Toronto since 2000, terminated four unionized staff writers last week and two managers, citing economic reasons. The paper is owned by Torstar, which publishes the Toronto Star and Metro International, which publishes giveaways in a half dozen other Canadian centres as well as numerous cities worldwide.

A few days before the layoffs, Metro management brought in the interns. The union representing the laid-off writers says the labour contract allows interns to stay in the event of layoffs; however, it has launched five grievances over this.

Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (which organized Metro's staff three years ago), told us: “In this kind of environment, layoffs are inevitable. But we reject the notion they can fill jobs with interns hired three days beforehand.”

Metro's group publisher for English Canada, Bill McDonald, says: “We made a small adjustment to our staff. We're managing our business in these economic times.” Copy for the paper will be supplied by “a number of content partnerships,” including the Toronto Star, wire services and extensive use of freelancers, he said. Other Metro papers in Canada have also cut staff.

Anonymous said...

I think the key word they used was "Bureaus". That is different than the "Home" paper. The Star has already cut them and most work is being done at the main building.

1:19 How would the publisher know who is blogging? Can you answer Anon 1:37?

Anonymous said...

Remember this? LA Times in a lawsuit, not too subtle-warning about your boss watching YOU.

A LA Times blogger said to do your writing at home, it was an idle threat. It is none of their business what you do offsite.

-Big boss is watching you-

Bad enough that times have gotten tougher at The Times with the seemingly endless rounds of staff cuts, senior management exits and a pending lawsuit, but today LA's media watchdog, LAObserved felt compelled to issue a warning to Times staffers: according to sources, their not-so-new publisher is calling it "treason" for employees to share information about stuff going on inside the paper.
Pure Bullshit!

Anonymous said...

This was a posted comment a few months back. I only offer it again because of “the talk” phrase, and “job doesn’t exist anymore.” Words someone else may encounter.
“It's been almost two months since I went through "the talk.”

I work at ____, which has recently been hemorrhaging employees. Nearly half a dozen staff writers have left so far, under their own volition, until today. We just laid off two writers and a photographer.

Just earlier this week, one reporter who resigned shortly before this, asked to rescind his resignation. He was told his job doesn't exist anymore.”

Anonymous said...

I can't believe we can't find out what's going to take place at all the papers.

Anonymous said...

We've had two rounds of layoffs already, last summer and a few months back. This will be our third. Our bureaus were cut but some of those employees still work for us, even in the same positions. It sounds like these layoffs will be MUCH worse than the last two rounds. Apparently McClatchy has given each newspaper very high amounts to cut. If they aren't telling you that - they just don't want you to know yet.

Anonymous said...

Sacramento Bee employees should expect a serious wave of layoffs in early March, as well as other cost-cutting measures now being considered, including wage cuts and mandatory furloughs as McClatchy Newspapers’ financial crisis worsens, company representatives told the Guild’s bargaining committee in a 90-minute session Wednesday.

The company said all options are being considered, but that layoffs would occur in quantities to trigger a federal WARN Act notification by The Sacramento Bee – required when a company does mass layoffs.

(More information on WARN: www.doleta.gov/programs/factsht/warn.htm)

“We need to reduce very quickly,” said The Bee’s Human Resources Director, Linda Brooks. “I don’t want to lead anyone astray. That number is going to be big.”

She provided no specific numbers, no financial target, no dollar figure. Brooks said in an on-the-record bargaining session that the company is still working on all manner of ways to cut costs, from fewer pages to fewer employees.

Mandatory furloughs are being considered possibly for the second quarter of 2009. And wage cuts being considered run from the publisher on down, the company said.

“The newspaper industry is in a depression and this company is part of it,” said company attorney Bob Ford. He said all of McClatchy’s newspapers are making similar plans to cut costs as the firm’s revenue picture deteriorates faster than projected even weeks ago. He said the layoffs would be on a scale exceeding anything before seen at the Sacramento operation.

The company said nothing is likely to happen before Friday, Feb. 27. The company and the Guild, which represents 268 of The Bee’s 1,126 full- and part-time staffers, have scheduled a session at which The Bee will formally propose cost-cutting measures. Our bargaining committee was told in no uncertain terms that our rejection of any or all of those measures – such as potential wage cuts or furloughs – would lead only to more layoffs.

Company representatives said layoffs under the WARN Act provisions will come with the following provisions:

- 60 days of continued employment following the layoff notification. Medical coverage continues.
- Accumulation of severance pay, two weeks per year of service to a maximum of 40 weeks.
- Accrued vacation continues during the 60-day period. Medical benefits would continue for three additional months after layoff under COBRA, and possibly longer, said Brooks.
- The company will also bring in EAP counselors and financial advisers to help laid-off staffers plan a strategy. It will also offer people use of company computers to apply to the Employment Development Department. Others will be brought in to help people through the process of applying for state jobs.

Brooks said criteria to determine layoffs consists of three things, and that preliminary planning has already been done. Criteria include skills, performance and tenure. In the case of a tie breaker, tenure wins.

Prized newsroom skills, said Brooks, include expertise in investigative reporting, databases, mapping tools and freedom of information requests.

McClatchy Newspapers had previously announced that it intends to trim $100 million to $110 million in costs soon. Former VP for News, Howard Weaver, said just weeks ago that all the chain’s newspapers are making money. But the company is carrying approximately $2 billion in debt from its 2006 acquisition of the Knight Ridder chain and earnings are falling.

Bee Guild President Ed Fletcher was told that the company will consider offering voluntary buyouts if it gets names very soon of volunteers. Bob Ford offered no guarantees on that front, but acknowledged that it could be helpful in reducing the numbers of layoffs.

“We don’t need a feel for it,” he said. “We need names.”

Brooks said that people who ask for buyouts will not be targeted for layoffs, having indicated their interest.

Fletcher, and bargaining committee members Cindy Taylor of advertising, and Walt Yost and Jim Wasserman of editorial, asked numerous questions to pin down more details. Guild representatives Linda Frediani and Wendy Mejia also participated. We were told that each 1 percent wage cut among bargaining unit members would save approximately $140,000 to $160,000 – approximately three jobs. The paper is also exploring ways to use fewer print pages – each fewer page printed daily saving about $52,000 a year. We asked about voluntary furloughs and expressed the willingness of our members to take them. Those are in the mix, we were told. It takes approximately 52 people taking one week off per year to save one job.

In short, this session was grim. It has come to this after a long, gradually-building slump in the housing sector and larger economy.

This session was scheduled to discuss the continuing question of a pension freeze. That fell to the sidelines. We were once again told very bluntly that the company believes it has the legal power to freeze pensions and that any expenses it has to pay if the Guild challenges it on the question will result in more layoffs. That freeze is scheduled to take effect March 31, but remains on the bargaining table.

To summarize, it appears, unfortunately, that a business many of us love, a newspaper that many of us have spent years climbing toward, is caught up very badly in America's economic crisis. We are being told to prepare for an extraordinary and painful journey in coming weeks. The company has promised to send us details as they have them. We promise to do the same.

McClatchy Watch said...

Anonymous 9:58 - do you have a link for this info?

Anonymous said...

Any senior employee who is laid off should prepare to file an age discrimination complaint against McClatchy Corp.
It is obvious from Jim "Oops" Witt of the Star-Telegram that he is targeting a senior sports columnist for a layoff because he makes more money than the whiz kid who does a story about chicken wings for the Super Bowl.
If you lose your job because of Wittlike age discrimination: Contact a lawyer who specializes in such cases; prepare to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; after the commission rules, appeals can be made through the federal courts.
Fight back. The company has declared war on its lomgtime and loyal employees.