Some six years ago, I was freaking out. I was "bought out" at work. They sent me home first, to return to Human Resources, and bargain my exit. I was the first of dozens and as someone with a disabling illness, would be the test case for how to COBRA a long time employee with health issues being severed to save money.
Since then, there have been dozens. Hundreds actually. Now, the worst. The books don't balance and 37 were to be laid off this month unless volunteers stepped forward for a not very generous severance package. Two weeks for every year worked. No health insurance compared to the paid two and a half years I and the others in the buy out groups got. No one year or more salary. Two weeks immediate pay and the two weeks a year somehow parceled out. They'll get to come back for their stuff and final paycheck in a couple weeks.
No, there is no good way to do this, as the editor wrote the staff this afternoon in an email. So here is how they will do it at The Plain Dealer tomorrow:
Reporters, line editors, photogs are to get up and sit by the phone. If the editor does not call you by 9:30am, you are safe, not one of the 27 who didn't leave of their own choice. Report to work and watch the continuing decline of advertising revenue on the antique vessel, turning your own work product into blogs for the newspaper's web sites.
We all knew this was coming for a couple months now and I said more than one prayer of thanks as I shared my Thanksgiving traditions with my Mexican neighbors and talked to my American neighbors back home.
A couple weeks ago, John Tidyman declared my contributions to his book a wrap. I haven't heard yet when it will be published. But I look forward to reading the volume put together by those of us who worked in the newspaper business when there was still competition and a market for newspapers. So sad!