Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is that your kid? Prove it.

Tribune has succeeded in irritating and insulting its LAT staffers, according to memos sent to fishbowlLA and LAObserved.

Employees are being required by Tribune, via consultant Mercer, to provide documented proof – no later than October 5 – that dependents claimed under the LAT medical benefits plan are in fact really, legally dependents — or poof! no coverage for spouse and kids after that date.

In an email exchange with management about the paperwork fiasco and the resulting panic the requirement has caused, a staffer wrote:

Making honest people fear losing their health insurance -- which polls show is a major anxiety throughout the population -- is inexcusable. It is no "assurance" to be told that Tribune will make contact before yanking your spouse and kids off their insurance. You have a moral responsibility to proactively inform each employee when their dependents have been verified to the company's satisfaction so they don't have to keep worrying.

In addition, Tribune owes an apology to every employee who received one of these threatening letters after they had already provided the paperwork. It may not meet the legal definition of workplace harassment, but the bullying approach of this audit is an affront to everyone who works hard at the Times and the other Tribune properties.
As unionized employees, YOU would have the right to be proactive on an issue like this, rather than finding yourselves in the reactive position you have found yourself in. Tribune has the right to introduce plans that will save costs. However, as a union you would have the right to have your representative meet with the company in advance to discuss for example, the current documentation requirements plan and give voice to questions and concerns on process that could eliminate similar confusion, outrage and panic that this mismanaged situation has apparently created.

The above quoted writer, to his coworkers:
Given the time, trouble and insult this exercise has put all of us through, I would also like to know how many ghost dependents this audit and the previous one end up discovering here at the Times, and whether the savings Tribune-wide are greater than the consulting fees Tribune is paying Mercer. Since Tribune's corporate values include Employee Involvement and Teamwork, such an action would be perfectly consistent with this audit's respectful skepticism of our integrity (which, when capitalized, is also a Tribune value).
Indeed! So, how's things in YOUR workplace? (end of post)

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