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Nashua (NH) Telegraph facing possible newsroom layoffs

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by RedSmithClone, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. RedSmithClone

    RedSmithClone Active Member

    A little birdie told me that The telegraph management is putting pressure on the union to open up their current contract and accept three changes.
    1. A reduced rate of company match to the 401k
    2. Two more weeks of furlough next year
    3. For anyone with an HMO plan to switch to the higher priced HRA out of pocket plan

    Now mind you, this information came one day after the higher ups sent out a job opening memo telling everyone that they will be adding a new Managing Editor position. Well technically I guess it is a position they used to have years ago and decided to bring it back.

    Also keep in mind that when the topic of furloughs came up last year, the union of newsroom employees agreed to do two weeks of furlough on the condition that the company would extend the current contract through the end of 2010. That includes same benefits. The company supposedly jumped at the agreement.
    Now they want to scrap that deal and force the union members into agreeing to their demands.

    How is it forcing? Well they are basically saying it is up to you to save co-workers jobs. Obviously in a smaller place most of these people are probably friends.

    According to my buddy, the company has come up with figures that could lead to cost cutting by means of laying off between two and four newsroom CBU members. Now I know four doesn't seem like much, but word is they have skeleton crew as it is in every department.
    The health care deal equals two people and the 401k-furlough equal two more.

    Here is what an e-mail my buddy received from his union reps said today:
    "not agreeing to the health-care change means two layoffs, and not agreeing to furloughs/401k means two layoffs. This could possibly mean NO layoffs. However, as I've been taking an informal poll with those in the newsroom who are not on the HRA26, it seems very split on those who would be willing to change and those who want to stay on HMO/HRA20, which people do have a right to keep through the end of 2010. So this really doesn't change too much from the previous e-mail, as it still basically means two layoffs.

    It has come up that there is still concern that we are not getting anything in return for accepting these changes. Besides keeping our jobs. If anyone has a suggestion, please let me know, and I will get back to management. One proposal that was already turned down was to be able to roll over sick days, which they've said is "against company policy." As this is something that doesn't even cost the company money and they've shot it down, I'm open to creative suggestions."

    Now the breakdown they gave out for cost savings was:
    "They did not provide us with complete numbers for health insurance, as open enrollment ended just last week. They said 18 of us were on HMO and 5 of us on HRA20 this past year. The rest of the company has been forced into HRA26, the newest "co-insurance" plan. Now, I don't know if everyone stayed on the same (old) plans, or if some people switched to the new HRA26. But if all 23 people switched to HRA26, the company says it would save $63,685.

    With the 30 CBUs taking two-week furloughs, the company says it would save $42,595.

    And if the 28 people who do 401k took the match cuts, the company says it would save $20,167.

    This is a total of $126,447."


    If this were my shop, I would probably say OK to the furloughs (first week is free, second week you can collect in NH), but no to switching health and 401k.

    What do you all think?
  2. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    I think there is not a hot enough place in hell in which the people who run this business can rot for all of eternity.
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The cynical person in me would say that the union should ask management to open up their books (not that they can't be cooked anyways) and see how they did in the last year.

    If they're asking the union to blow up the contract, that essentially makes having a contract worthless.

    Otherwise, I'd agree on the furloughs (at least, you get the time off) but reject the new health plan (why should you pay more out of your pocket?). The 401k match, I'm kind-of iffy on.
  4. Step 1: Open your books.
    Step 2: Extend the current contract (through 2011 at least).
    Step 3: Push on the sick day rollover. As you said, it costs them nothing. (And you can drop it in the spirit of collaboration, but get the other two.)
  5. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    We just went through a version this at our shop, we were asked to vote on furloughs that were being implemented at non-Guild papers in the chain.

    The Guild (whose brass handled informing its members on the ramifications of the situation with the deft touch of the Lee Harvey Oswald prison transfer) voted the furloughs down, though the majority in the newsroom (including myself) voted for the furlough. Furloughs suck elephantine balls, but I would never vote for an alternative that would put people's jobs in jeopardy.

    Six work days later, layoff notices were given to two newsroom folks in what is a pretty small newsroom to begin with.

    Moral of the story: sometimes these threats of layoffs are not threats at all.
  6. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    We had free insurance here, but as of 1-1-10 we have to start paying. Mine will be $700/year.
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I think I would like to watch from the sidelines while BYH tries to run a real newspaper for a year.
  8. fishhack2009

    fishhack2009 Active Member

    Most of us on here have seen oodles and oodles of how NOT to run a newspaper.

    Could we really do any worse?
  9. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Free? Lucky you. They take $117.38 every two weeks out of my check.
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Mine will be 14-something per two-week pay period.

    On a bright note, since I'm into my 3rd year here, I get a 3rd week of vacation.
  11. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    You'd be amazed. I'm not saying most or even many of the presidents and CEOs and whatnot are doing a bang-up job, but I don't have a lot of confidence in our peers to delve into business affairs. If SJ ran a paper, what would we do other than charge for online content and wait for the ducats to rain down?
  12. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Allow publication of the word "douchenozzle"?
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