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Are buyouts worth it?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sportsed, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. sportsed

    sportsed Member

    We've all read or discussed this on various threads, but there's a high noon deadline on Friday for folks at McClatchy papers to pull the trigger on the buyouts offered earlier this week. Incredibly, management didn't have the courtesy to allow employees to weigh their decisions through the weekend.

    So my phone has rung a few times this week with friends and acquaintances calling to seek advice, a morale boost or just an encouraging word. To be honest, I'm not sure what to tell them. I found myself arguing both sides, unsure of the merits of waiting things out at a job that's surely to get harder and harder versus taking the little money that's on the table in order to devote full attention to finding a new job.

    Given the crumbling news industry, let alone the deteriorating economy in general, is a buyout offering two weeks' severance for every year of service, capped at 13 years and 26 weeks of pay, really worth the risk? There are so few jobs available out there, and more and more people are competing for them every day.

    Worse, as I understand it, the severance packages do not include insurance coverage. And whatever might have been put toward retirement would come to a halt, including whatever match the company contributes, and that's money that can never be made up once the calendar year ends.

    So, financially, is it worth the gamble? Is this something you or someone you know are seriously considering? Or are you girding for the long haul, willing to hang in there until either things turn around or you find something better?

    For those who took earlier rounds of buyouts, perhaps they can share what they've learned from the process and offer advice for those who are trying to make this most difficult decision under what is obviously mounting duress.
  2. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    God damn. I hate that that decision has to be made by people. Fuck.

    I think the thing to do — and it's too late for this right now though — would be to look for a job and if anything looks promising, take the buyout. If not, sit and hope.
  3. sportsed

    sportsed Member

    Sit tight is the first thing I tell people, too. But the rationalization gets easier and easier with each new round of buyouts, the next offer always not quite as attractive as the last.
  4. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    Each individual has to make his/her own decision. Depends on a spouse's income, other job possibilities, faith in the future of the employee's position/beat.
    Option 1: Take the buyout, live off it as long as possible, apply for unemployment.
    Option 2: Take the buyout, live off it as long as possible, hope to find another job.
    Option 3: Take the buyout, live off it as long as possible, invest in lottery tickets.
    Option 4: Take the buyout, live off it as long as possible, hope to land another job before the money runs out.
    Option 5: Don't take the buyout, keep working until the grim reaper cuts you down during the next round of cuts, choose between Options 1 through 4.
  5. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    You forgot Option 6, which is take $1,000 and have some fun, put it all down at 100 to 1 and hang fire.

    OK, so people don't get the Rolling Stones reference. Seriously, I'd go with 1 or 2 as options.
  6. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    It's like a real-life game of fucking Deal or No Deal. And almost no one wins in the end.
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    If a buyout is no better than what your severance would be, then sit tight, if you're only focusing on the money. You won't do any worse, financially.

    But you also have to anticipate that, if buyouts aren't offered again any time soon and you aren't tabbed for a layoff, the bosses might need to redefine you to pick up slack created when others left or were whacked. Or your bosses might choose to redefine you, in hopes that you'll dislike the new duty enough to quit, saving them the severance pay. Either way, you would have been better off taking a cash-out up front.

    If the guy with the worst job in a newsroom takes a buyout, gets laid off, retires or quits, someone else is going to be doing that job. It could be you. I saw this happen too many times in non-desperate times, just to create some staff movement or "creative tension", or to take care of new bosses' pets, to believe it won't happen more and more in these desperate times.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Unless you're just about the retire or you have another job lined up, almost nobody takes a buyout who isn't bullied into it.

    I know of one chain that structured a buyout so those who took part could still get unemployment.
  9. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    I shared this somewhere else on this board: I know people who have taken them, and while rules might differ by state, a key factor is whether the paper is doing the buyouts to downsize. If so, people who leave generally are eligible for unemployment. The jobs are gone. X number of people who used to be there won't be there. The end result, to the labor market, is the same as if that number of people were laid off. So unemployment checks are in play, typically after however many "weeks" of severance/buyout you got.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think if they call the buyout "a severance package" you can get unemployment.
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    My point was, even if they call it a "buyout" or "lovely parting gifts" or "a pound of your beleaguered publisher's flesh," you often can get unemployment.
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I know of a couple places where that wasn't the case.
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