Layoff Q & A

Several stewards and Executive Committee members have gotten questions from coworkers about the upcoming reduction in force at the Post-Dispatch and we will do our best to answer them. On those which the Guild couldn’t answer (because it involved management), we asked Astrid Garcia, P-D Vice President of Human Resources.

1. Several people recently left the paper, do they count as part of the 10 people Lee Enterprises is looking to layoff?

The Guild couldn’t answer this one, so we asked Astrid Garcia. She replied: “Nice try – Arnie tried that one too. But the savings need to come from where the paper is now.”

2. If I don’t volunteer to be laid off and the company goes bankrupt later and then I get laid off as part of a bankruptcy restructuring, will I still get my severance?

The short answer is ‘probably.’ A lot depends on the type of bankruptcy, whether or not things have already been worked out with the creditors (prepackaged) – one of which would be the Guild, by the way – however nothing about bankruptcy reorganization is absolute. Were that to occur, it doesn’t seem likely that Lee would want to get into a big argument that would hold up the court’s approval on it’s reorganization. Still, one cannot and should not make any guarantees.

3. Will they lay off managers if the company does not get 10 volunteers from the Guild?

Again, we asked Garcia, who said: “There is always a possibility to lay off managers but we can’t say at this point.”

4. If the company does not get 10 volunteers and begins involuntary lay offs, can those with more seniority then choose to step forward and volunteer to be laid off to save another employees job?

Astrid replied: “We will look at it but we cannot commit to anything at such a late date.”

(Note: BTW, there have been instances when someone did step up at the last minute and the company allowed them to go but they did not undo any of the dismissals; they simply expanded the layoff. This happened in advertising and, while I’m not saying that such would definitely be the case here, it could possibly happen again.)

5. If there are layoffs and if junior people are exempted by the company, will the Guild publish those names?

Since someone might lose his or her job as a result of these exemptions, it seems absolutely necessary for there to be as much transparency about the entire process as possible. So yes.