December 1, 2008

I'm a lucky one!

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!


Life's a Beach! said...

Craig got put out to pasture from his long time career in 2003. Maddening, but we now realize he got a better deal than those who have gotten the axe later. Some of those people don't get their COBRA supplemented at all and are forced to pay 100% in order to maintain their benefits. And it is sad what's happening to newspapers around the country. But it's happening across almost all industries now. And they FINALLY decided to admit we're in recession today! More like a Depression!

Sue said...

Glad you got the package you did but I know you feel sad for those who are now waiting their fate. Seems there should be a better way than forcing people to wait for a deadline and a phone call.

I guess newspapers are suffering like librarys - by the time things are in print and delivered, the news is hours old and in this day of the internet, people can be more current by just reading online. But I dont know, there's something about holding onto a physical piece of paper and lying in the hammock that can't be replicated with a laptop. Sigh...the good old days.

P.S. Just read you're sick. Hope it's just a 24-hr thing and you're back at it in no time. You probably wore yourself out with everything you did in the last week or so.