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Negotiating a no-buyout clause

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Versatile, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Is this possible? Has anyone done anything similar? Would it cause too much unrest with colleagues if it got out? Even if a no-buyout clause isn't possible, has anyone ever asked for an increased severance package instead of a raise?

    Recently, I left one job for another and the paper I was at -- with very little tenure -- gave me a counter-offer that included substantially more money. My immediate thought was, "Great, so if I took this, I'd be the first on the chopping block."

    I didn't consider, until after I took the new job, the concept of leveraging the offer into a no-buyout or very-expensive-buyout clause. In all honesty, I would have taken half the raise if I could have tripled or quadrupled my buyout, and I would still be at my previous paper.
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Ask away. You won't get one.
  3. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    I got something like this a decade ago... in TV.

    Small station. The #1 station entered into a "shared services agreement" with us. We knew we'd all get fired (or most of us, anyway) within 10 months.

    My deal is coming up. I had one baby and a wife 33-weeks pregnant when my contract was up. I walked into the boss's office and said, "I have worked my tail off, never bitched to you in five years here. Will you give me a one-year extension and, since we both know you will probably be shown the door soon, will you consider tossing in the following language to the contract?"

    "Whatcha got?" the boss said.

    My best friend, an attorney, wrote something along the lines of this for me:

    In the event of a merger where more than 50% of the current newsroom workforce is terminated within any 7-day period or timeframe of the entirety of this contract and if (exmediahack) is terminated during this period where 50% or more of the newsroom workforce is terminated, he is due the full balance of the remainder of this contract, payable in a cashier's check within 24 hours of his notice of termination.

    March comes around. 39 employees fired. 2 survive.

    I was one of the two.

    A year later, long after I had left for a better job, I came across the GM of the station that fired everyone. Since I was in a better place, I wasn't bitter about what happened.

    "Yup, corporate shit a brick when they saw that in your contract. So we had to keep you. Well done."

    Every year, I sent my (fired) boss a Christmas card. :)
  4. Ex, at the very least, you owe your best friend a beer! ;D
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Great story. I just wonder if this could happen in today's environment, particularly at a newspaper. I'd guess that my previous boss would have said, "Versatile, we're offering you a big raise because we want you to stay. You're not on the chopping block. We like your work." Then, within two years, proceeded to decided I was making too much for a sports desker.

    I'd also think that my previous company, Gannett, would have something to say about a "no-buyout clause" before they allowed the editor/HR rep to put something like that into my contract.
  6. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    I know of one guy in the business who got himself a safety net. There was no contract, but he had a memorandum of understanding signed by the publisher and HR that spelled out increased compensation if he was let go in a layoff situation in his first two years.

    It was on a sliding scale so that his company-supplied payoff started well above normal severance (to cover the inconvenience of the move and uncompensated expenses) and then dropped dramatically once he achieved various levels of unemployment coverage through the state.

    I do remember that they had a hard time agreeing on precise language drawing distinctions between a pure layoff, a dismissal for not surviving his 90-day probation and a for-cause situation.

    Once they did iron it out, he made the jump halfway across the country and it worked out fine.
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    That is awesome...
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If you're in TV, it doesn't matter if it's local news or ESPN, you get an agent or a lawyer to take care of your contract.
  9. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    In TV, we do have "contracts" for nearly everything.

    The timing actually worked out quite well on my story.

    Right before my daughter was born, we inked the 1-year extension. Our GM signed off on it two days before she was fired. Slipped it into the contract (as a thank you), the news director signed it...and I signed it.

    The reason, they both told me, was that, for five years, I went out - every night - shot my own video, did my own interviews (without the cost of a photographer) and then went out and executed killer sportscasts every single night. Didn't complain. Didn't whine. I just did my job in a newsroom full of whiners.

    So they had my back...even as they walked the plank. :)

    Although, I do think of that cashiers check for about $27,000 I would have been due...from time to time.
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