David Batterson 8:30 a.m., April 24
Union-Tribune's New Buyout Program Suggests the Company May Be Bought Out Soon, and May Be in Cash Flow Squeeze
The Union-Tribune today (Aug. 28) offered still another buyout program to non-union employees with 5 years or more of service. Full-timers will receive an amount equal to two weeks of base pay for every year of continuous service up to 52 weeks. Employees must make their minds up quickly. Forms will be available tomorrow (Aug. 29) and can be submitted beginning September 3. Forms will be accepted through Sept. 11. Because requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, employees complain that in essence they have three days to make their career decision, although most realize that the company and metro daily paper industry are crumbling. One item from the offer sheet suggests the company may have cash flow problems. Says the sheet, "Severance will be paid IN MONTHLY INCREMENTS on the 15th day of each month until the sale of the Union-Tribune is final." In late 2006, those accepting the buyout got 25 percent in late 2006 and the remainder in one check in early 2007. This was done for tax purposes. In the 2007-2008 buyout/layoff, people got a lump sum at the beginning of 2008. As in that most recent buyout (called the Christmas Massacre), the company is specifying what jobs are eligible, and which are not. For example, in the newsroom, two critics and two people in the opinion section are eligible. On the other hand, the buyout is not being extended to employees the company wants to retain, including sports columnists and the border reporter. As reported Saturday, Black Press Ltd., which owns many Canadian papers and a handful in the United States, brought its brass to tour the U-T on Friday.