Philly publisher responds to union chief’s protest

Bob Hall

Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News publisher Bob Hall put out a memo today about Teamsters Local 628 president John Laigaie “verbally criticizing me for not caring about our people or this company.” He tells employees that “those of you who know me would believe just the opposite.”

No one likes dealing with job losses and the impact it has on peoples’ lives, but sometimes in the current economic climate it cannot be avoided. We are prepared to make the best out of a difficult situation. ..

As many of you know, the company lost a considerable amount last year and continues to operate at a serious deficit. Advertising and circulation revenue continue to decline. The new ownership team are committed to establishing stability and are hopeful of a substantial turnaround. The new owners do not get paid for their services; there are no management fees, dividends or salaries paid to them and, no members of their families are employees. Instead, their commitment is shown by, and through, the time they spend working tirelessly to improve the company’s fiscal outlook.

Hall’s full memo is after the jump.

From: “Hall, Bob”
Date: June 12, 2012 12:09:25 PM EDT
To: “All PMN Employees”
Subject: Important Announcement to All Employees

To All Employees:

Teamsters Union Local No. 628 – whose President is John Laigaie – has staged a protest today in front of our Broad Street building. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the true facts of our situation.

As you know we are moving to a new office location at 801 Market Street as a tenant on a lease negotiated and entered into by our prior ownership group. Nearly every building in Center City includes landlord provided building maintenance and security services for the entire building. This is also the case with our lease. Unfortunately, we will have some layoffs within our maintenance and security department as a result.

The possibility of layoffs were first discussed with Mr. Laigaie in February by Michael Lorenca, SVP of Human Resources. In fact, there was a written document exchanged with Mr. Laigaie, at that time, discussing potential for cross training of some of the employees impacted. This discussion was subsequently confirmed in a telephone conversation.

Formal notice was delivered to the union in late May as required by the contract. Michael Lorenca and Jimmy DePasquale established a meeting with Mr. Laigaie to discuss the impact and alternatives. Mr. Laigaie opted to take the start of what should have been a very constructive discussion, into a most unfortunate direction, by becoming extremely unprofessional in his actions; displaying a temper and tone that would not be suitable for me to describe, except to note that he used very profane language and then abruptly dismissed Mr. Lorenca and Mr. DePasquale from his office. Because of Mr. Laigaie’s inappropriate conduct at the start of that meeting, Teamsters Union Local No. 628 was short-changed by Mr. Laigaie in not being able to hear a number of alternative options that Mr. Lorenca and Mr. DePasquale had planned to share for consideration by those members of 628 impacted by the layoffs. This included the possibility of potential positions and retraining for those displaced employees with our new landlord and other companies and the review of severance benefits. Because of Mr. Laigaie’s actions, we have not been able to discuss these issues with him.

Nonetheless, Mr. Laigaie has been verbally criticizing me for not caring about our people or this company. I think those of you who know me would believe just the opposite.

No one likes dealing with job losses and the impact it has on peoples’ lives, but sometimes in the current economic climate it cannot be avoided. We are prepared to make the best out of a difficult situation. In fact, our new local ownership has been working cooperatively with all other collective bargaining units to establish a spirit of teamwork as we attempt to move the company to financial stability. The response of the leadership of those collective bargaining units has been cooperative, positive and enthusiastic about the future success of the company.

As many of you know, the company lost a considerable amount last year and continues to operate at a serious deficit. Advertising and circulation revenue continue to decline. The new ownership team are committed to establishing stability and are hopeful of a substantial turnaround. The new owners do not get paid for their services; there are no management fees, dividends or salaries paid to them and, no members of their families are employees. Instead, their commitment is shown by, and through, the time they spend working tirelessly to improve the company’s fiscal outlook.

As can be seen firsthand in his attached correspondence dated June 8, 2012, Mr. Laigaie seems to have mixed up facts on the situation with fantasy. Mr. Laigaie either forgot what he was told, does not choose to remember what he was told, or does not want to admit to his membership that he was notified of the reduction of his employees and reemployment opportunities for his employees, but did not act.

I want to assure you again, that I too, am committed to the success of our company and our newspapers. We continue to hope that our dialogue with Mr. Laigaie will be productive in the same sprit as our dialogue with the leadership of the other collective bargaining units.

Bob

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