Dec 29, 2008

Ho-Ho-Hold On To Your Savings*, **

As employees in Singleton's LANG group tried to turn the page on an ugly 2008, they were greeted with a grinchly memo regarding their retirement plans - dated, fittingly, Christmas Eve.

The memo, from VP of Human Resources Charles Kamen, says MediaNews will suspend its contributions to employee 401k plans for the whole of 2009, with the hope that contributions will resume in 2010. Here's the relevant passage:
In an effort to operate our business as cost effectively as possible, the Company has made the decision to suspend all Company contributions and matches to the 401k Plan for 2009.

With you support and continued efforts, I am hopeful that we can resume the Company contributions in 2010.
*The Dec. 24th memo was posted on walls and doors inside the Daily Breeze office today. Checking to see if other LANGers got the news in a similarly indirect manner.

**UPDATE: The memo were indeed posted in other newsrooms. I'm also told the decision to eliminate the contribution only affects non-unionized employees, since the union contract mandates a match.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a shock and surprise. Note to employees, don't expect to have the benefit return in 2010, Don't expect to be working where you are now. Don't expect no more layoffs. Don't expect an economic miracle. Don't expect to hear the truth.

Do expect to make decisions that protect you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many senior managers are leaving their nest egg in Dean's unsecured debt portfolio also known as defer the compensation. If you wait much longer it will do just that. It will defer right out of your pocket.

Anonymous said...

What's funny is that my LANG salary is so meager that I can't afford to contribute to a 401K. Oh, it kills me.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should ask some of the higher up suits for some of their money that they are being overpaid!

You'll probably get as much a response as sliding a good idea under their noses.

Anonymous said...

ok, how many people will be let go after the first of the year? bet it is a big number. oh, but, wait. hr said no more layoffs.

Anonymous said...

I smell Bankruptcy ! or something brilliant like buying another newspaper.

Mike Rappaport said...

Wow! This is really sad news for all the good people who are still employed there.

Betcha Renfield and Pine are protected.

Anonymous, Maynard G. said...

Magic 8 Ball, all knowing and infallible, says ... yes ... the answer is emerging from black ink ... disposition of Daily News and Long Beach, either through sale or closure, with Torrance included as the sweetner in a sale and a wildcard if the others go to the banks, and a virtual sale of the Inland papers, whether outright sale or dilution/reduction of share of the declining partnership. Magic 8 Ball only wrong once before, predicted SoCal home prices would rise in 2008, on euphoria over McCain election and stock market surge.

Anonymous said...

Only affects non-union newsrooms. Wow! What a great idea it is not to unionize. Sorry to have to do this, but some people need to hear an "I told you so." Union or no union, you're jobs are in danger. Face it people. But at least with the union, you have a fighting chance.

Wise up!

Anonymous said...

I hear multiple dozens of people will get the knife Monday. Happy New Year. And, only in the eastern geography. Who knows what the number will be in other papers in the great empire of simpleton.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against unions but I haven't seen much good come out of saving jobs. Printing presses shut down, journalists laid off etc. All with union contracts. Maybe you can say it would have been worse, but, I doubt it.

And if Singleton goes belly up the union won't mean a thing to those who are members or not.

It is ok to disagree on this. Provides a good forum.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against unions but I haven't seen much good come out of saving jobs. Printing presses shut down, journalists laid off etc. All with union contracts. Maybe you can say it would have been worse, but, I doubt it.

And if Singleton goes belly up the union won't mean a thing to those who are members or not.

It is ok to disagree on this. Provides a good forum.


Agreed. Civil discourse is always a good thing.

I wasn't always a union guy, but this industry is changing my mind pretty quickly.

While it's true that unions haven't been able to do much by way of preventing layoffs, no union in the nation has ever suggested that retaining employees was within their power. If the boss wants to lay off workers, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.

But things CAN be worse. The severance packages, two-weeks notice, extended benefits...there are lots of things that the union has negotiated and protected. And the employees would NOT have gotten them without the union - even with the contract, the company has tried to get away with cheating people out of that stuff, and more than one employee owes their severance to the vigilance of the union.

Anonymous said...

Re: Unions. I have to agree that things could be far worse and that we owe the unions a lot.

The managers and bean counters are always going to tell employees 'things are just bad right now. There is just no money.' Yet there is enough money to double executive salaries (ala Belo).

While some may be believe that a union makes you a bigger target, some of us are certain that, union or no, we are all as big a target as they come.

As reporters, none of us should be afraid. We deal with angry politicians, tough cops, natural disasters, scandals, corruption and yet we don't seem to have the oomph to join a group that will give us a voice.

It doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Can't disagree with the union protecting layoff packages etc.

Latest black Monday layoff count now exceeds sixty in Singleton's Inland Empire area.

A lot of folks won't finish work January 5th.

Anonymous said...

I found out the 401 K contribution had been revoked by reading LA Observed. Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Media News.

Anonymous said...

Good and honest communication has been clearly lacking since anyone with a spine was let go. If you can't communicate with your employees who have a strong reason to help, and you can't communicate with advertisers and readers, maybe you should shut the doors and try investment banking.

Leopold A. Loeb said...

OK, time to back this up. Who actually knows what about anothe rround of layoffs? Can someone stand up who actually knows something and not just flying rumors?

(Latest black Monday layoff count now exceeds sixty in Singleton's Inland Empire area.)

Gary Scott said...

I don't know about dozens and dozens of people being fired, but there is the matter of the consolidated copy desk, and that's supposed to happen in January: http://reporter-g.blogspot.com/2008/12/copy.html

I haven't heard anything solid about whether other layoffs are planned.

Anonymous said...

I guess we will know next week, but I wouldn't bet against the rumor being true.

That number is probably a combination of actual layoffs next week and current open positions.

Not sure how many of each, but the total number of sixty would not be a shock.

But, hey, the HR guy said no more layoffs.

Russell Casse said...

Well ... as far as Inland Division goes ... there are about 60 staffers in Covina and maybe 100 (???) at the Sun and Inland Bulletin. If you know the actual numbers, pls correct. It would seem a bit hard to accomplish 60 layoffs out of (maybe?) 160 staffers. So ... does anyone really KNOW anything about any layoffs next week or in January, or are we all riffing on rumors of rumors? Of rumors? Maybe this is entirely made up. Of course, eventually, we'll all be laid off. And dead.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how we would get it on a public forum like this one, but we need a reliable source. Spreading rumors isn't helping anyone. We need some firm information.

Anonymous said...

Inasmuch as that even jim janiga, the senior vp of hr, has been outed as a pathological liar with no respect for the employees he supposedly represents, i can't blame anyone for believing the rumors.

They refuse to give any meaningful information, and the information they do give out is almost always worthless or false. rumors are all we've got.

Anonymous said...

The "rumors" are not just related to journalists. They impact all who work there.

When you work at an organization that can't look an employee in the eyes and tell them a simple fact like 401k being changed, how in the hell will you be able to tell them they will be laid off.

Nothing will happens till it does, but, if I had to place a bet, I would put my money on the "rumors" being factual.

Although employees can take great comfort from HR that there will be no more layoffs.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with rumors is that there is often a kernel of truth to them.

I hope that's no the case here.

Anonymous said...

Reliable sources now indicate the the rumors may have a bit more than a kernel of truth.

It would not surprise me in the slightest.

It's tough in a bad economy and it is clearly bad at LANG, however this months long blood bath could have been largely prevented by solid executives that knew what they were doing.

It's sad for the folks who have been and will be impacted.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part of all this is that most (if not all) of the MediaNews properties continue to be profitable ventures. The problem lies in Singleton's monopolistic business model that requires the wholesale purchase of multiple papers in the same territory.

On one hand, it opens up a lot of potential for efficiencies - but on the other, it requires either deep pockets or heavy debt.

Even in a good economy the debt MediaNews swallowed in pursuit of their empire would have been impossible to maintain without layoffs and a pretty bloody restructuring. But in a down economy those layoffs are barely enough to keep them afloat.

Make no mistake, they're not doing this to make the company better, or out of any long term plan. They're just leaning on the collapsing walls and hoping like hell that something changes soon.

We were always expendable. It's just that now it's not for profit, it's for survival.

Anonymous said...

Jim Janiga has been lying for years...


Official slammed in back pay award

In a sharply-worded opinion
that stops just short of calling
a MediaNews executive a
liar, an NLRB administrative
law judge has ordered back
pay and reinstatement for 21
transportation department
employees that were termi-
nated by the Long Beach
(Cal.) Press-Telegram ...the judge concluded that such talks were started only after the company
had made a final decision.
Moreover, he accused com-
pany official Jim Janiga of
being “intentionally deceptive
and untruthful” and said his
testimony “appeared to be
evasive and often unclear or
unresponsive.”


http://www.newsguild.org/gr/pdf/000721.pdf

Anonymous said...

That is the nicest thing I have ever heard anyone say about Jim Janiga.
It sure sounds like the LANG troops would follow their leaders up a hill.
A sad sad joke- and it would be funny if the twits weren't about to put such a damper on many more lives.
They use to have a respectable group of publishers and editors. Not now.

Anonymous said...

Stop with the rumors already! Unless you have something concrete to contribute, it's just useless to keep scaring people with unsubstiantiated innuendos.

Anonymous said...

anything said until it happens is a rumor. this rumor seems to have facts behind it from sources within the company. my suggestion is to not visit this site if it troubles you. at least it gives the rank and file a bit of warning since the company does not have the class to do so.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone remember the last time there was a rumor about layoffs and it didn't turn out to be true?

Anonymous said...

Jim Janiga is a liar, pt. 2

Janiga is not just a liar.

Gammon describes ANG's lead labor negotiator, Jim Janiga, as being "vengeful," "bullheaded," having a "volcanic temper" and being "virulently anti-union."

http://sfppc.blogspot.com/2006/06/ex-union-official-slams-angs-pay-scale.html

Anonymous said...

Arguing with pro-union people is like arguing with the religious...they believe what they believe and don't let reason get in the way...

Anonymous said...

Arguing with anti-union people is like arguing with the religious...they believe what they believe and don't let reason get in the way...

Anonymous said...

Come on, you can do better than that. If you want to be a troll, at least put some effort into it.

1/10

Anonymous said...

Arguing with some anti-union people is like arguing with the religious...they believe what they believe and then they call you a troll because they are weak-minded and don't know how to defend against their own silly, useless arguments any other way...

Anonymous said...

2/10

...feel better now?

Anonymous said...

...and why would anyone (union or not) want to "defend against their own silly, useless arguments"?

Defending against YOUR arguments might be useful though, but looking back, you haven't made any.

"Union people are religious fanatics," isn't an argument. It's an opinion. Arguments involve evidence, facts, all that stuff that stuff you haven't got.

In other words, an argument can be refuted. An opinion cannot.

You want me to defend against your opinion? Here goes:

No, they're not. See how easy that was? This would be a great time for you to turn your opinion into an argument with some of those pesky facts.

This thread has long since died, but I've got nothing better to do today, so go ahead. I'll check back later...

Definition of Troll from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/trolled


a person who posts deliberately inflammatory messages on an internet discussion board

Clearly, calling you a troll was way out of line.

Anonymous said...

Arguing with anti-union people is like arguing with the religious...they believe what they believe and don't let reason get in the way...