Thursday, February 5, 2009

Incredibly Shrinking Severance

Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

Right about now, scores of Sentinels are wishing they had volunteered to take the earlier Tribune buyouts. That's because Tribune's bankruptcy judge this week approved the company's motion to significantly reduce the severance offered to employees in any future buyout/firings.

Instead of getting two weeks of pay for every year at the Sentinel, as many former Sentinels did, future ex-Sentinels will get only two weeks for the first year of work and one week for every year thereafter. That's equivalent to about half the severance offered in earlier buyouts.

It used to be that a Sentinel who spent 20 years at the Orange Avenue lockup, would get 40 weeks of severance pay when he/she walked out the facility for good. Now, that's down to 21 weeks of pay. Basically, nearly a year of pay was reduced to about six months of pay.

Severance is severance, and I'm sure folks are glad to get it. But what a difference that five to six months is going to make. The economy being what it is means people are likelier to be unemployed for a longer period of time.

And don't count on cashing out your pension plan in a lump-sum payment. Tribune just sent out a notice stating that for the time being, "The plan is prevented from offering eligible participants the option of receiving a lump sum ...".

These moves are a strong indication that Tribune is sharpening its ax again. Why else put this motion before the bankruptcy judge? The LA Times already got its notice. About 300 people are out. Watch out for rolling heads at other newspapers, including the Sentinel.


Anonymous said...

Interesting that our once 'over funded' pension plan is now in danger of being under funded. Between the downturn in investments and Tribune's decision to raid the pension fund for severance payments and funding the new ESOP the pensions of all long time Tribune employees is in jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

it is preposterous delusion to look for more newsroom jobs. the trick is to leverage the buyout into training for something else - and quick.
do not waste time applying for other news jobs, or don't waste much time.
get into nursing school - they have programs for people with bachelors in other subjects. get a teaching certificate in a high-demand area (not language arts, sorry!) Learn medical office skills at a cmm. college.
wake up and don't blow it. I saw a former sports desk person working at albertson's, as a checker.
act to avoid this.

Anonymous said...

The pension plan that is on hold and not 100 percent funded (about 98%) is the current bash balance account that was created when the Tribune went private (Zell took over).
The old pension plan, I believe, is not affected by the bankruptcy.