Friday, September 5, 2008

Layoff Q&A from Providence

The employees union in Providence published Friday afternoon a layoffs Q&A for its members working at the Journal, the Dallas Morning News’ sister publication.

Answers to several big questions remain unknown, the union said. The lack of information is apparently not exclusive to the Morning News. Why is this?

The prevailing sentiment in both newsrooms is that Corporate has kept tight controls of the decision-making in this round of job cuts. Only the highest levels of newsroom managers are included. Top Journal managers were in Dallas for meetings Friday, to cite an example.

The most interesting details in the Providence Q&A were two possible scenarios for the layoffs at the Journal:

Method A: Start with the least senior people and work up. This would hit part-timers first. Advantage for the company: there would be no bumping, because only the least senior people are laid off. Disadvantage to the company: the company could lose people in jobs they don’t want to cut.

Method B: Identify the jobs the company considers to be over staffed. The least senior person in the eliminated job could bump to a position they are competent to perform. The bumped employee could also bump to another position. Advantage to the company: Cuts can be targeted to specific classifications. Disadvantage to company: Bumping can be extremely disruptive and there would likely be disputes over pay rates for bumping employees and how to determine competence.
Dallas employees should keep in mind that because the Morning News is not a guild newspaper and Texas is a “right to work” state. Therefore Corporate could use different methods for cutting jobs. We are not reporting that this is how layoffs will transpire at the Morning News.


Death said...

How to determine competence: Have at least 12 middle-managers meet with at least 2 senior managers and 2 upper managers in one department to figure out how to oversee 40-50 employees, then cut from that number. This is the only way to ensure that management stays intact.

Sounds like a solid business model to me.

Anonymous said...

Not to sound snotty, but DMN staffers can rest assured that things will work far differently in Dallas than in Providence. Department heads will be ranking each employee (by some mystical formula), and those rankings will be passed up the chain all the way to corporate. There is no requirement that seniority be the defining measure of who stays and who goes. No news department and no news staffer will be exempted from this process - at least in theory. One thing that will be different from the 2004 layoff is that if one person's job is eliminated that will not automatically mean he or she will be laid off. In other words, managers will be doing some degree of horse-trading.

Anonymous said...

There will unquestionably be a pet employee protection plan employed by news management. There always is. Many of us may have benefited in the past from being - even temporarily - in management's good graces. Merit should be rewarded. Unfortunately, making a place for favored pets could mean the axing of lesser known working stiffs. There will only be so many chairs when the music stops. Upper management does not seem to have applied this reality to themselves, however. They have announced the reduction of one deputy managing editor position in Local News, and that does not necessarily mean that person will be laid off. Then again, those are the people fighting so vigorously behind closed doors for the rest of us schlubs.

Anonymous said...

One more point and I will stop. Even the most cynical among us would have difficulty believing that soulless creatures enjoy this layoff stuff. It may be strictly business to some, but they still know it sucks. This situation isn't fair, and everyone knows it. Let's not give in to the temptation to point fingers and say "take him, not me." No one deserves that.

Anonymous said...

For your consideration:
In 2004, before the layoff, the newsroomstaff was about 600 employees. There were a dozen members of the management group.

Four years later, the anticipation is, post-layoff, that the newsroom staff will number 350. Even with the subtraction of one member of the management group, a dozen remain.

Translation: a 40 percent reduction in news staff since 2004 has resulted in 0 percent reduction in upper management.