Monday, April 6, 2009

Info exchange for laid off McClatchy workers (updated -- in comments, questions and answers on COBRA)

An emailer asked for a post for laid off McClatchy workers to exchange info on issues facing laid off workers.
How about setting something up so we can all exchange Unemployment, Cobra, etc info. ? Having gone through some of this already I can tell you that it is very confusing and sharing info. will help those going through it now.
Alright, I'm here to help. Consider this an open thread for laid off workers. Weigh in with tips or questions you have about COBRA, applying for unemployment benefits, etc.

I have no idea how much interest there is but I'll throw it out there and see what happens.

UPDATE: Previous blog post on advice for laid off workers here. Good info in that post (all from readers), plus more good advice in comments.

UPDATE #2: In comments, questions about COBRA. An answer here.


Anonymous said...

Before you get the ax, contact your local EDD (in California that is the Employment Development Dept.) and get a copy of the handbook. Read it carefully, then read it again and hi-light it. Look for time limits such as the time you have to apply for govt. subsized retraining etc. Look for cut off dates and anything else like this that might apply to you. If you call the EDD and ask a question spelled out in the handbook they get really upset and tell you to look in the book.
If and or when you do get laid off. First get over it as quick as you can. Life goes on and everyone else looking for a job is way ahead of you. I was told you go through the same phases as when you lose a loved one. Mourn, then get of your ---!
Realistically asses your situation and if you think you can get a job doing what you are doing now. Be realistic!!! Example: Are there jobs for plant and building maintenance mechanics...most likely yes. Are there jobs for Newspaper pressmen...most likely no. How about journalists and editors? Can you retrain in a career of "similar scope"?
Up date your skills and your professional network. Join a service club or see if any of the local churches have any meetings for the unemployed. These church ministries are really helpful even if you are not a believer. They want to people and you may get some good contacts also.
As mentioned in the other thread, get hooked up with the workforce training center. In Modesto it is the Alliance Worknet. Most states and counties have something similar under different names (look in the phone book). Get a case worker. If you don't like the one appointed to you ask for another. BE PROACTIVE!!! You have to initiate the activities that will help you get a job. Don't sit around watching Oprah and Judge Judy! Ask questions! Ask what you are entitled to. The cut off period for retraining, what you have to do to get retraining if you so desire this option. What resource the EDD has to help you look for a job.
Once you decide to pursue a certain career path don't look back or second guess. Usually your first instinct will be the right one if you are truly honest with yourself. Once you begin that training you will see other opportunities open up in the field you are looking at.
Update your resume. The EDD has resources for this (don't spend precious money on a resume writing service). The local college has resources for this also.
Contact your local college, community college, university etc. to see what programs they have available to retrain. Personally I would stick to institutions that have ties to the community, and the local businesses invest money and equipment in that college. These colleges have more netwoking and contacts with businesses and job opportunities.
Hope this helps at least one person out there.

Anonymous said...

Having been laid off twice (!) since July, I learned a lot about going back to school. Specifically, if you think you want to retrain, order several sealed copies of all of your college transcripts now. (You need a transcript from every school you attended even though your courses might have transferred to your new school.) You can open one copy for your use, but leave the rest sealed so you can deliver them with your application(s). If the seal is broken, they're unusable. If you think you want to go to nursing school, based on my experience you'll also need sealed copies of your high school transcript and SAT or ACT scores.

It takes maybe a couple of weeks to get all of this in hand, so start in advance. You can order express delivery, but it's pricey. College Web sites have forms to print and mail, or you can order online. Ditto Educational Testing Service (SAT). I'm thinking I had to write a letter to order my high school transcripts, but check yours. Again, based on my experience, order several of each transcript. I wound up applying to multiple schools and used all but one or two sealed copies before I found "my" place.

Finally, if you think you want to go to grad school, start now to study and register for the Graduate Record Exam, Miller Analogies Test or other professional-school test. They're not offered frequently, and you'll want to get that done early in the process if possible because your final, unconditional admission will depend on it.

Anonymous said...

Another resource is your local library. Often libraries offer courses in resume writing and/or job search.

Anonymous said...

Good info there.

NOW... for many that went out in the September 08 buyout (volunteer)and took the 6 or 12 month Cobra deal this is time to make sure that you qualify for the extended Cobra under Obama's ARRA. There should be something from Zenith the Administrators for MNI within the next couple of weeks.

The big thing will be to see if Zenith and MNI extend it to those that took the buy out or to those that took the 12 month Cobra deal.

Reports are that most Companies are extending the Cobra to ALL those who have been displaced in order to avoid lawsuits and to take the government tax break.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

@News Cycle
A look at the news, politics and journalism in today's 24-hour media.
-Newspaper Layoffs Reach 7,000 in 2009, but Government Bailouts Are Not the Answer-
“We're not done with the first quarter yet and more than 7,000 people have been laid off from positions at newspapers in the United States this year..”

Maurreen Skowran said...

Not exactly the same, but I have started a LinkedIn group for current and former McClatchy employees. I hope we can use it help and keep in touch with each other.

It's at:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how one would qualify for a COBRA extension that was NOT a part of Obama's plan? I took a buyout last July and my COBRA info said I would qualify for 18 or even 24 or 36 months of coverage. I know that legally you're entitled to 18 but how about if (heaven forbid) I need to extend it? (I know I could call Zenith but I'd rather wait til I know I need to extend.)

Jenniferwriter said...

COBRA - yes, my question exactly. Part of my severance when I left in September 08 was 12 months of continued HC coverage at subsidized rates. I called Zenith last week and asked about the provision in the stimulus package, but didn't get a clear answer.

My question - under the stimulus provision, can I get 9 months of subsidized COBRA after my 12 months subsidized by McClatchy ends? It sure would be great to get an additional 9 months of coverage paid for in part by McClatchy?

Any information would be greatly appreciated! And meanwhile, if I learn anything, I'll be sure to post here.

Anonymous said...

Some links with COBRA subsidy information below. If by virtue of your termination date you fall into the eligible category, even if you quit paying for COBRA after it got to be too expensive when your 3-month MNI subsidy ran out, you get a fresh chance to sign up within 60 days after getting a new notice from MNI/Zenith. (Like the guy from a couple of days ago who said he had no insurance for his family -- take heart, brother.) The date the premium reduction would start is March 1.

Don't take this interpretaton to the bank -- read for yourself. The whole thing is very complicated and Zenith is probably tearing its hair (their hair?) on all the nuts and bolts of managing it.

Hint for new career opportunity: COBRA specialist.

Anonymous said...

Jenniferwriter/3:13 PM... I'm in the same boat. I called Zenith and they told me they are close to sending out all the info. Could not give me specifics.

If you think your confused you should follow the HR/Cobra management people...

11:19 AM... Looks like it only helps those laid off after 9/1/08.

Good luck all and post up as you get info.

Anonymous said...

If you think it is hard to figure out the COBRA program, wait until the government has charge of your automobile warranty.

Anonymous said...

If anybody has info on low cost high deductible health insurance post up.

Anonymous said...

Jenniferwriter/3:13 PM... you're "lucky" to have gotten subsidized COBRA for so long! Mine was only subsidized for 3 months then it was all up to me. I'm wondering if I'm entitled to the reduction Obama has proposed since, tho I left in July, I started paying full COBRA price in October. Grasping for straws, I admit!

Anonymous said...


People who got longer Cobra subsidies gave up months of severance pay.

Anonymous said...

In that case I guess I'M the "lucky" one. Apologies to Jennifer.

Jenniferwriter said...

No apologies necessary - we're all here just trying to hang onto every $$$ possible as we wade through unemployed times....

Yes, I did get 12 months of subsidized COBRA, but as noted by someone else, I did give up some $$$$ for that "perk."

And for the person who posted about getting laid off in July, unfortunately, that's before the qualification date, which I believe is Sept. 1.

Anyway, if I learn anything new, I'll be sure to post. Meanwhile, I'll check back for new info.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was me. I was hoping against hope that even tho I got laid off in July and didn't start paying full price for COBRA til October, that MAYBE that would somehow qualify me! Thankfully, during open enrollment at the end of last year, we switched to a different plan and are able to save $200 a month on the premiums. But still...

Anonymous said...

a related question about the new cobra subsidy program in general- I took Cobra in January (terminated in December) and now have the subsidy starting March 1st
Now I took another job and will end my cobra May 1st. If i get terminated again say Oct 1 and elect Cobra from the new company am I entitled to the 9 months of subsidy again?