Nine bucks an hour (plus tips) doesn't quite cut it in Southern California's economy.
San Diego's cut-rate job picture, bemoaned by University of Southern California sociologists, is bad and getting worse.
"The economy is developing in a way that will generate further income inequality, with higher-paying jobs out of reach for the growing segments of the population, while the tourism and service sectors that are within reach for these workers pay low wages," was how USC put it in July.
“The Mayor’s veto of an $11.50 living wage ordinance, followed by City Council’s override and business leaders’ subsequent move to put the ordinance on the ballot, exemplifies the political and economic divisions that threaten to keep economic growth an exclusionary enterprise."
Now, with the stock price of its parent plunging more than 17 percent in the wake of a negative New York Times story, workers at the Union-Tribune, owned by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, may have more reason than ever to be concerned about their future.
The lengthy Times account reviews the ongoing war between members of the Los Angeles political and business establishment — most notably billionaire Eli Broad — and Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, headed by former Time, Inc. executive Jack Griffin.
"He was welcomed with good will, but when faced with the reality of a large, complex business like Time Inc. he had no clue what to do except spend millions on multiple consulting firms,” John Huey, then–editor-in-chief of Time, Inc. magazines said about Griffin in a statement to the paper.
“He was very threatened by strong players who pushed back so he replaced them with small-timers who, like he, weren’t up to the task.”
Time, Inc., Huey’s statement said, "had to get rid of him. He was impossible for those above and below him, and he was wrecking the place.”
Tina Brown, ex-editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, came to Griffin's defense. “I’ve found working with him, that he’s so smart,” Brown said, according to the New York Times story. “He’s a great, decisive guy, a very, very hardheaded guy.”
Tribune sucked the Union-Tribune into its troubled vortex when the Chicago-based firm, purchased the San Diego operation in May for $85 million from local Republican kingpin Douglas Manchester.
"For better or worse, the company was set up as a platform company with shared services to build and grow and consolidate,” the New York Times quoted Griffin as saying of Tribune Publishing.
He vowed to continue with a business plan calling for '“one, accelerating our transition to digital; two, diversifying our revenue base; three, accelerating our national sales initiatives; four, maintaining a disciplined cost structure; and five, pursuing accretive acquisitions.”
It's the disciplined cost structure part that has staffers in both L.A. and San Diego worried about losing their jobs. On the other hand, yet another U-T buyout by a big-money partisan owner such as Broad, a Democrat, might save the papers and jobs for awhile, but would likely be politically fraught, many argue.
Feeding that fear has been the abrupt public reappearance of Nathan Fletcher, the twice-failed mayoral candidate with close political ties to Broad’s friend, fellow Democrat, and nonprofit media backer, Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs.
Meanwhile, a less publicized but perhaps equally as important change — at least to airport-shuttle drivers and valet parkers — is about to occur.
According to a so-called WARN report issued by the state's Employment Development Department, San Diego Park 'n Fly, which according to its website operates four facilities near the airport here, has issued 71 permanent layoff notices effective October 23.
Management in San Diego didn't immediately return calls, but an unidentified worker who answered the phone at Park 'n Fly here said the operation has been sold to WallyPark, another mega-airport parking chain, with rehires expected after a job fair to come.
Park 'n Fly is owned by giant Netherlands-based multinational BCD Group. Owner of WallyPark is the Los Angeles–based L & R Group of Companies, according to the firm's website.
"L&R has grown into one of the largest parking property owners in the nation, operating two distinct parking divisions: WallyPark and Joe's Auto Parks," the company’s site says.
L&R chief A. Stuart Rubin, a USC grad, is also chairman, president, and chief executive officer of L.A.'s RP Realty Partners, which, according to its website, "invests in middle-market transactions ranging from $10 million to $100 million in total cost."
WallyPark is currently advertising for shuttle drivers at $9 an hour, plus tips, as well as cashiers, valet drivers, and guest-service associates, whose salaries are not specified.
We've left messages for Rubin and a spokeswoman at Park 'n Fly's Atlanta office seeking further details.