Wednesday, July 2, 2008

LA: 150 editorial staff over 2 months, different severance terms

Two hundred and fifty company wide will loose their jobs and the cuts to the news-gathering staff will amount to a 17% reduction there.

Bad news. Though expected, it's bad and worse still because most cuts will be firings that could roll on all summer. Who know's when you'll get the tap on the shoulder. Brutal. You can be sure the company is going to go slow and tread carefully so as not to trigger WARN.

But here's what we're thinking about: the severance package. If we're reading things right, the LAT package is different than Hartford's or even last year's LAT package. (The Guild in Baltimore negotiated over the package at The Sun.) LAT editor Russ Stanton did not spell out the severance terms in his memo to staff Wednesday, but Publisher David Hiller said he expected that the severance terms would match those of earlier staff buyouts at The Times.

But Michael Hiltzik reports that severance will include payment equivalent to two weeks' salary for every year of service, up to a maximum of 52 weeks, to be paid into the employee's retirement account. (Emphasis ours.) Yikes.

Last year's severance terms were one week's pay for every 6 months of service [minumum 4 weeks, maximum 52 weeks] paid thru salary continuation ... (Emphasis ours.) So those folks had income for a time while they got their Next Life up and running. (Unemployment checks don't cover the bills.)

This time? No cash. It sounds to us like you'll have to PAY to get cash out of your retirement fund what with those early withdrawal fees and all.


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