Sam Zell thinks the lawsuit is frivolous and unnecessary: "We are partners and we need to act like it" he wrote in an email to employees yesterday. Zell admonishes Tribune employees, saying that he and they are "all in this together."
The suit may be more than a shot across his bow. The law firm representing (former and current) LAT staffers wrote (Romenesko Memos):
The current and former Tribune employees are not "all in this together" with Sam Zell. The rank and file employees have their jobs and their current and future retirement plans tied up by the machinations of Zell and his co-fiduciaries. ... [snip]There is nothing frivolous about the mounting employee fear and concern that Zell's house of cards will fall, leaving them all jobless and broke. So rather than stand by and do nothing, the employees are taking action. Given the legal structure of ESOPs, this lawsuit should generate tremendous interest as it winds its way through the courts. The message of the filing is clear: Tribune (current and former) employees have determined they need to use whatever tools they can to fight for their product, their journalism and their livelihood. This lawsuit is one tool available to them and we hope the courts move this one along in a speedy manner.
Zell's comments fail to acknowledge the billions of dollars in debt he caused the Tribune Company to incur, necessitating both the layoffs and the diminishing content of the Company's newspapers. It is unfortunate that, in typical fashion, Sam Zell is ignoring the rights and neglecting the best interests of the hard-working Tribune employees, whom he cynically refers to as "partners." Rather than working with his "partners," he is tearing the company down, brick by brick, and selling it off, in an effort to pay down the massive debt he improperly encumbered the company with. We look forward to cutting through Zell's self-serving, out of touch rhetoric and fighting for our clients -- the Tribune’s real and rightful owners -- in court.