Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Going to press with the reporters you have

THE AXE FELL again at the Plain Dealer this week.  Hardly surprising since  it had  been anticipated for many days.  Of the 27 Guildsmen sent out the door with "layoffs"   (added to some 23 buyouts earlier) at least one is a veteran who once worked at the Beacon Journal: Terry Oblander.  Here's how it was explained to me:   On Monday all were told to sit by their phones at home from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. If you received a call from the paper,  you made the cut and was expected to return to work.  If the phone remained silent during that period, you were history.  The losers are to receive two weeks pay plus a week's pay for each six months on the job, up to one year.  But why do companies call these cuts  "layoffs" when there will be no effort to restore the jobs.  Not these days.  Or ever.  


Mencken said...

It was the way around. People receiving a call were the ones being laid off.

Grumpy Abe said...

Sorry, I was misinformed on the ground rules. But it won't change the outcome for the castoffs.

Anonymous said...

For the record, here's the text of the e-mail that went out:

Date: December 1, 2008 11:45:26 AM EST


As you all know, we previously announced the need to reduce our staff size.

Unfortunately, there was insufficient participation in the voluntary buyout program. Therefore, we must reduce our workforce by 27 bargaining unit positions. Here is how that procedure will work:

If you are in the bargaining unit, no matter what your shift or schedule, please be reachable by phone tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 2) between 7:00 am to 9:30 am. I will be calling the people who have been selected for layoff during that time. If you do not receive a phone call by 9:30 am, please report to work at your regularly scheduled start time.

There is no good way to tell anyone he or she has been laid off. We have chosen to do it this way because I believe it respects and protects the laid off person's privacy when receiving such traumatic news. In a world of bad options, this seems the best alternative.

If you receive a phone call, we will set up a time for you to come in to meet with Human Resources, fill out paperwork and pick up your personal belongings. All people who are being laid off will no longer come to work beginning Dec. 2, but will be paid for the following two weeks, in addition to their full severance.

Please open the "editorial utilities" icon on your desktop and click on "home phones" to make sure that your home and cell phone numbers are correct. Those are the numbers I will call. If corrections need to be made, please send them to Loreen at She will get the correct numbers into the system by tonight.

I regret very much that I will have to make even one call, let alone 27, but The Plain Dealer must reduce its workforce to remain a viable enterprise. I appreciate in advance your professionalism.


tom moore said...

Maybe somebody is inventing new titles for reporters to confuse the readers (if there are many left)With 41 years of newsrooms under my belt I thought I had seen most editor...correspondent...staff writer..special report...but now comes the Beacon Journal Friday with a new one.. Just what in the
S--H--- is a "Popular Culture
Editor"? Does that mean they also have an "Unpopular Culture Editor?"
But that "Popular" title is is the latest under by the byline of Rich Heldenfels. Makes you wonder who is decided what's popular and what's not. Oh, well....