San Diego Union-Tribune staff told told to dress up, work longer hours

The new owners of the San Diego Union-Tribune have asked employees to help the paper go from “good” to “great” by dressing up a bit and working longer hours for the same pay.

“Employees will transition to a 40 hour work week effective January 2, 2012,” from the old 37.5-hour work week. “Standard office hours will be, 8:30 – 5:30, with an hour for lunch,” says a memo to staff. About the dress code:

We would like employees who work with the public to dress in sharp business attire. …Employees who do not work directly with the public, should keep in mind that we always have visitors, government officials/dignitaries in and out of our building, and the desire is to have a professional workplace appearance. “Casual Friday” will continue, but should be only slightly less business oriented than Monday through Thursday.

* U-T staff to work longer hours, dress snazzier under new management

UPDATE: There are dozens of comments about this on my Facebook wall. Here are some of them:

Katy Moeller
I had lots of knee-jerk reactions to this … I recognize myself that some days I could dress better, but my focus tends to be on the stories I’m doing. I think a friendly reminder about looking professional, rather than a condescending announcement about wearing business attire, would go over better with staff. Forty hours a week would sound like a vacation to many journalists I know.

Judy Israel
I started working at CBS News in 1977. One day when I was still an admin. asst. on the Foreign Desk, an executive needed someone to deliver something to Bill Paley at Black Rock, the CBS corporate headquarters. Because I wasn’t wearing a dress or a skirt I actually couldn’t go. Women could wear pants at the Broadcast Center but not at corporate back then. Hard to believe now.

Pat Alder
The Hotel guy thinks that by slapping a new coat of paint and changing the furniture people wil come?? Quality brings them, not new furnishings.

Pam Robinson
‎”Standard office hours” in a newsroom? Good luck with that. And I wonder if they’re getting paid enough to afford “We would like employees who work with the public to dress in sharp business attire.”

Peg McNichol
I thought Leona Helmsley was dead.

Peg McNichol
Although … an hour for lunch? Woo hoo! Surely the deadly house fires, barricaded gunmen and near-drowning victims rescued with heart-stopping precision will happily wait to get their photos taken for me to finish a peaceful lunch … Kwame Kilpatrick, to be sure, wishes reporters had daily taken a lunch hour. [CONTINUES]

Jay Rodriguez
I just worked a 55-hour work week, worked on both of my days off and there’s still news. In a newsroom, we spend more money on electricity than we do on salaries.

Judy Israel
What a gargantuan step backward in thinking. There are best-selling authors and journalists who write from home in their pjs or probably naked.

Craig Branson
I think copy editors will LOVE the new schedule!

Matt Mendelsohn
So you walk into the bridge of the S.S. Journalism and you find four holes in the watertight compartments, the ship is listing at thirty degrees, and there’s a salmonella outbreak to boot. What do you do first? Dress code. But of course!

Julie Gallego
Wow, a lunch hour, 40 hour work week AND I get to dress up? Sounds great

Bill Cotterell
I agree with all that’s been said. In my first job, 1967, I had a 3-suits rotation, fairly common at the time. I was once mistaken for a federal lawyer in a Barnwell, S.C., race lawsuit (the ‘necks weren’t all that mollified to find out I was from UPI sted DOJ). I would not be mistaken for a lawyer now. I work in Dockers and usually open-collar shirts, sometimes a tie, with a coat in the car or nearby. I’ve been off the clock for many years and lunch is usually no problem — depends on your beat — but I can see that holding down OT is a problem in most newsrooms. And probably in any other business you could name. I’ve never felt exploited. If you want to be home by 6, be a DOJ lawyer.

Katy Moeller
I had lots of knee-jerk reactions to this … I recognize myself that some days I could dress better, but my focus tends to be on the stories I’m doing. I think a friendly reminder about looking professional, rather than a condescending announcement about wearing business attire, would go over better with staff. Forty hours a week would sound like a vacation to many journalists I know.

David Kelly
Only someone will zero experience in a newsroom could issue such edicts. What would happen if reporters worked 40-hour weeks and clung religiously to their time cards? What if they all started charging for overtime and comp days? The great compromise of journalism is that you work totally unpredictable hours covering unpredictable news and in return you earn flexibility in lieu of cash. The hotel dude will learn the hard way – they always do.

Dean Miller
Damn rraht! Them stupid customers orter be thankful the newspaper’ll take their stinkin’ money.

If they think hipsters look sloppy they can go spend it elsewhere. Because the right to dress like crapp in public areas is just that important…right up there with free speech.
Because dressing the way we always have and treating outsiders like morons has made us just this strong, huh?

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal
Uh, “business attire” for a reporter is relative. Not many ex-cons talk to a stuck up woman in a suit. The same get-real gal in jeans? Much better odds. It’s easy to intimidate a source by dressing too fancy schmancy and getting nothing useful out of theme. Oh yeah, and covering a brush fire in a suit and heels is REAL practical.


Comments

comments

4 comments
  1. AC said:

    In unrelated news, Union-Tribune staff have begun trying to find jobs elsewhere.

  2. bwayne said:

    I worked for a paper almost 10 years. Some departments had 37.5 hour workweeks (mine for one) others went 40. All it means is I got paid OT earlier or worked for 2.5 hours less pay per week. Trust me, everyone liked going home on time, especially the day shift types.

  3. Dave Barnes said:

    Because execs at Apple and Intel drove their companies into the ground by not wearing suits and ties.

    Wait. That is not right.

    OK. How about Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm are causing their companies to be financially weak.

    Wait. That is not right either.

    OK. Brian T. Moynihan of BofA wears a tie and his company’s stock performed really well in 2011.

    Wait. That is not right either.

  4. Wassermd said:

    Latest headline – San Diego thrift stores expect stampede of U-T newsroom staff in search of professional clothes.