Lee Cuts 23 more workers at Post-Dispatch; 9 were members of the Guild.
Second layoff in last two months; April saw 11 PD jobs eliminated; 3 of which were Guild members cut from advertising dept and 4 more were Guild volunteers from the newsroom.
As another fiscal quarter comes to a close, more and more cuts are occurring in newspapers around the nation. And, like our brothers and sisters at many of those papers, St. Louis Post-Dispatch employees are being forced to pay the price for corporate fiscal irresponsibility. Last night three of our co-workers, each with over 30 years of service, were escorted out of the building like they’d done something wrong when, in fact, all they’d ever done was work hard their entire adult lives for a company that no longer values such dedication and length of service. As employees continue to pay the price for poor executive decisions and as stock prices in these highly-leveraged media corporations continue their freefall, it’s worth noting that those responsible for taking respected and profitable newspapers and making them part of debt-ridden enterprises – those individuals remain firmly ensconced in their plush offices; stockholders have yet to wise up and perp-walked them out of there. But one wonders just how far off that day can be.
THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU’RE LAID OFF
Any employee in the job classification and department affected by layoffs may voluntarily resign and receive severance pay, provided the employee resigns within two weeks of the date the Guild is formally notified that layoffs will occur. Retirement-eligible employees (age 55 or older with at least 10 years of service) who are laid off or who voluntarily resign under the layoff provisions are entitled to retirement benefits as well as severance pay. If you are eligible to retire and wish to do so, contact Human Resources at the Post-Dispatch at 314-340-8066.
Layoffs must be conducted in inverse order of seniority within the affected job classification and department. Any employee who believes this seniority protection was violated by the company in a layoff should contact the Guild office immediately at 314-241-7046.
An employee slated for layoff who has been promoted from a lower classification within the previous six months, may return to that previous classification if there is an employee within the lower classification possessing less seniority, displacing the employee with the least seniority in that lower classification.
As an alternative to dismissal, if a vacancy or new job opening exists in some other classification or department which the company decided to fill, the employee, upon his or her request, will be offered the opportunity to fill that vacancy provided the employee is deemed qualified and competent by the company.
Employees who are laid off to reduce the workforce are eligible to be recalled to work. The eligibility expires after 18 months. The employee is responsible for remaining in contact with the company regarding job openings and providing the company with their current information. Guild members who wish to remain subject to rehire asked to contact the Guild office.
Members hired on or after December 1, 1994 are entitled to one week’s severance for each year of employment up to a maximum of 26 weeks pay. Those hired before that date are entitled to two week’s pay for each year of employment up to A MAXIMUM OF 66 weeks. Severance pay for commission or base plus commission employees is based on the average commission or base plus commission for the 12 months preceding dismissal.
FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT:
The Guild advises dismissed employees to apply for unemployment benefits immediately, because there is a one-week waiting period for benefits. To file, contact the Division of Employment Security in the Missouri Department of Industrial Relations. You can reach them online at: www.moclaim.mo.gov
Or you can call them direct: 314-340-3499 between 8am – 5pm Monday – Friday. It’s usually busy on Mondays and Fridays, and closed on all state holidays. If you prefer to use the automated system, dial 314-340-4950, then hit “2” and then “4” to get to a claim representative.
Anyone member needing help with this process or wanting to use the Guild’s office or phones or computers are welcome to do so.
You may receive health insurance under COBRA, although you will have to pay premiums. The company is required to provide you with information about enrolling in the federal COBRA program. If this does not happen, contact Human Resources (314-340-8066) and ask them to send you information.
You can read about COBRA law here:
THE AFL-CIO DISLOCATED WORKER PROGRAM:
The Missouri AFL-CIO offers a highly praised displaced worker seminar for unemployed union members and your local is in the process of putting one together. The program covers a variety of issues and provides help. We will have representatives from many different bureaus and agencies – on both sides of the river – with a wealth of information to assist you as you make your way forward through this difficult time. Many subjects will be addressed: subjects like unemployment insurance (US Dept of Labor will be here), reducing your bills (budget counselors) tax issues (the IRS will be on hand) and dealing with stress, to name a few. Members will learn about available resources – like available tuition dollars for those thinking about returning to school – and how to access them as quickly as possible. There will be handouts, Q and A and, hopefully, everyone will leave a bit more able to deal with the chaos. We will announce a date soon.