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Better read than dead

U-T layoff plans supposed to be announced Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 26, the new ownership of the U-T is expected to announce layoff plans. The press room will certainly be wiped away, as Douglas Manchester will retain the Mission Valley building and the print edition will be printed elsewhere, probably in Los Angeles. Ad salespeople, accounting staff, and others will certainly suffer some cuts, as their duties go to Los Angeles headquarters of the L.A. Times or Chicago headquarters of Tribune Publishing, the parent company.

People on the editorial side — reporters, desk people, writers, editors, etc. — have been told that perhaps as many as 98 percent will retain their jobs now and will be fairly safe. The employees I have talked to have high praise for new publisher Austin Beutner and president Russ Newton. Employees believe the paper will improve, particularly with access to the Times's Sacramento and Washington bureaus. Overseas coverage should improve.

It will possibly be almost a year before the employees move out of the Mission Valley building, which was first occupied by the staff in 1973. It's doubtful the move will come before February of 2016. Already, there are other tenants in the building because of the previous sharp staff cutbacks.

Employees are glad to be out from the Manchester ownership. Among many things, he took away their 3 percent match in the 401(k) savings plan. The new owners, after a waiting period, will provide a 4 percent match for every 6 percent employee contribution, the staff has been told.

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On Tuesday, May 26, the new ownership of the U-T is expected to announce layoff plans. The press room will certainly be wiped away, as Douglas Manchester will retain the Mission Valley building and the print edition will be printed elsewhere, probably in Los Angeles. Ad salespeople, accounting staff, and others will certainly suffer some cuts, as their duties go to Los Angeles headquarters of the L.A. Times or Chicago headquarters of Tribune Publishing, the parent company.

People on the editorial side — reporters, desk people, writers, editors, etc. — have been told that perhaps as many as 98 percent will retain their jobs now and will be fairly safe. The employees I have talked to have high praise for new publisher Austin Beutner and president Russ Newton. Employees believe the paper will improve, particularly with access to the Times's Sacramento and Washington bureaus. Overseas coverage should improve.

It will possibly be almost a year before the employees move out of the Mission Valley building, which was first occupied by the staff in 1973. It's doubtful the move will come before February of 2016. Already, there are other tenants in the building because of the previous sharp staff cutbacks.

Employees are glad to be out from the Manchester ownership. Among many things, he took away their 3 percent match in the 401(k) savings plan. The new owners, after a waiting period, will provide a 4 percent match for every 6 percent employee contribution, the staff has been told.

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Comments
38

It will be interesting to see if the subscriptions increase or decrease. I would hope that there would be a balance of liberal and conservative views. No one side of an issue is always right or wrong. Most people I know have conservative views on some things and liberal views on others. While it seems that we are polarized most are either Demicans or Republicrats. In either case no one is Washington represents anyone center left or center right.

May 24, 2015

AlexClarke: Yes, from an economic perspective, it would be wisest to have a middle-of-the-road editorial policy. Demographically, San Diego is changing. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2015

We might wonder if any of those press people will be offered jobs at the LAT facility that will print the paper. Wherever the paper is printed will have some additional workload and need some press operators. But then there's the question of printing technology. Aren't the U-T presses now old, generally obsolete, and close to worn out? If they date from the move-in to the "new" building in 1973, I'd suppose that the operation was in need of updating anyway.

It really seems unlikely that they'll keep most of the editorial staff over the long term. There can be real economies of scale for them to start putting the paper together in downtown LA. This optimism on the part of some employees may be misplaced--in fact I predict that they will change their tunes in coming months.

Restoring and raising the 401K match to 4% sounds great, but if nobody is left to enjoy it, that means little and is an empty gesture.

Any news of what becomes of the community papers which are part of the deal?

We'll see what happens, won't we?

May 24, 2015

Visduh: You may be right that over the long pull there will be changes in the editorial staff. But around 98 percent should be retained now. The paper is slated to be printed at the Times's plant in L.A. They will be shipped to San Diego. Best, Dn Bayder

May 24, 2015

The accounting staff for the LA TIMES already moved to Tribune HQ years ago. Checks are mailed from Chicago.

May 24, 2015

dwbat: Accounting should be centralized in Chicago. There may be bean counters at each major location, however, feeding information to headquarters. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2015

Bill Whiteley: I don't know that conservatives and libertarians will be axed, at least right away. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2015

Libertarians? haha at the UT? hahaha...

May 26, 2015

Wabbitsd: Oh yes. An editorial writer named Chris Reed delighted in calling himself Libertarian Lite. He was one of the ones who childishly smeared Aguirre while he was city attorney, and trying to clean up the corporate welfare-obsessed downtown establishment. Now Aguirre is fighting to protect San Diego's utility ratepayers, who have been getting the shaft for decades.Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

Lori Kern: You must think that San Diego had a credible newspaper before. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2015

Don: The Union~Tribrune lost nearly ALL of its credibility the day you retired! I'm correct, right? Or, was that too obvious?

May 24, 2015

JustWondering: Your blatherskite sarcasm drips with venom. Welcome back. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

LA Times, San Diego edition--for a while. Some of their staff was not exactly Varsity, and one is still hanging around San Diego.

May 24, 2015

Twister: There were some good reporters working for the San Diego edition of the Times, but as you note, there were some that were not so good. Because the Times had an excellent reputation, and had a much larger staff and circulation, people in the media assumed incorrectly that its reporters were all top-notch. Not so. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

Yes, we did. Remember when there were two newspapers? One conservative and one not-so-conservative? Then they merged. Not sure which one you came from, but I remember reading you at the U-T.

May 26, 2015

LoriKern: I became financial editor and financial columnist at the Union in mid-1973 and then remained in those posts at the time of the merger of both papers in the early 1990s. Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

Meanwhile, life goes on and times are changing rapidly with global warming consequences.

Hopefully the combination LA/SD Times/Union-Tribune will help us focus on making the right things happen for living in this new era.

May 25, 2015

Anon92107: There will be a global warming time in the old town tonight. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

Is this a mass layoff under California law triggering the WARN Act for a 60-day notice to employees?

May 25, 2015

HellcatCopley: I don't see how it can be, since the change in ownership was only official a few days ago. There might be a loophole here. Also, since the paper might be at its current location for almost a year, many of the layoffs would not be immediate, I surmise. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

HellcatCopley: UPDATE: Yes, the deal triggered the WARN Act. The layoffs won't officially take place until two months from now. Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

It's really a shame that what was once a solid, stable newspaper and place to work for thousands of people in San Diego has been demolished by corporate America.

I'm no big fan of the Copleys, but at least during their long era, they had a long term commitment to this city and seemed to want to benefit the city in many different ways.

When Copley sold out to Platinum Equity, those money swindlers from Beverly Hills, that was the beginning of the end.

And when crazy man "Papa Doug" (Manchester) ultimately got his hands on the paper, he showed how egregious a clueless and sinister newspaper owner with an agenda can really be.

Most sad is the loss of wonderful and thoughtful writers such as Don Bauder (and others like Michael Grant, Don Freeman, Bob Laurence, David Eliott, etc.), who always made reading the old UT worth while.

May 25, 2015

Just goes to show ya, nothing lasts forever.

May 25, 2015

JustWondering: Let's hope that the whole strategy of private equity groups does not last. It has done enough damage to our economy now. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

JustWondering: So true. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

justsaying: While the Copleys were virulently anti-union, the company offered very good benefits. And until the merger of the Union and Tribune in the early 1990s, it was a fairly secure place to work. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

I recently subscribed. Looking forward to seeing definitive change from the previous owner.

I do feel the guilt of wasted paper. I give mine to others when I can, or recycle. Paper is known to consume trees, but manufacturing it also requires huge amounts of water and some nasty chemicals. And each day the U-T consumes barrels of black ink. Voice of San Diego is a paper free local news source which needs better support.

The reward of the Union-Tribune, for me, is local stories that I can't find on the internet. National and international news is far better online. Sports & entertainment don't interest me. I can do without car accidents, petty crime reports, celebrity gossip, editor opinions, and the in-your-face advertising that covers the front page. But local business, consumer news, economic and political issues are important to citizens, and best covered by the daily paper. This should improve now ... It's interesting that these are the issues that Don Bauder covers best.

May 25, 2015

swell: I would think that under the LA Times leadership, the paper will still stress local news. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

Voice of San Diego? ehh....

May 26, 2015

Wabbitsd: Voice of San Diego does certain things very well. Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

Voice of San Diego regularly gets things wrong. Their reporters seem to think city, county and regional employees and politicians tell them the truth. They don't seem to do any research.

May 26, 2015

LoriKern: Reporting statements by politicians and bureaucrats and considering them gospel can be dangerous. Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

When the LA Times had a San Diego edition a journo prof at SDSU once snootily told the class that the Copleys ran the paper of record while the Times ran the paper of analysis.

May 25, 2015

Hellcat Copley: Whoever that prof was, he was not reading the complete U-T product. In the financial pages, we did all kinds of analysis, and we often had to fight to get it in the paper. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

Lorraine Williams: My sympathy goes to the press room people, and sales, accounting and other personnel who suspect or know they will be laid off. Best, Don Bauder

May 25, 2015

Jennifer de Poyen: Editorial side U-Ters are happy now. But the metro daily newspaper business is in bad shape, and caution should be the order of the day. Best, Don Bauder

May 26, 2015

Don, back in the day I read the San Diego Union and although your column was way above my IQ I read it and learned a lot. Now I am just an out-to-pasture retiree. I was a DTD but you helped me understand finance and business. Now I am one of the "millionaire next door" guys. Not bragging just lucky and a few smart moves (encouraged by others who were smart) I have time to enjoy my retirement. Thanks Don.

May 26, 2015

AlexClarke: Union management did not want me to do those columns. But I kept at it and never got fired. Best, Don Bauder

May 27, 2015

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