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Gawker Media union members received this email on Thursday morning [my boldface]:

Dear WGAE-represented Gawker employee:

The good news is that we are talking seriously with the company about pay. The bad news is that the company’s counterproposal is pure status quo. No raises at all (beyond what would cover dues) except what each individual employee might be able to wrangle on his or her own.

The whole point of joining together in a union is to ensure that people’s collective voice is heard, to improve conditions for everyone. The negotiating committee’s response has been very clear: the status quo is not enough and solid, reasonable across-the-board pay increases are essential. We will return to the bargaining table again in two weeks to keep the pressure on.

In Solidarity,

Lowell Peterson
Jeff Schioppa
Executive Director
Business Agent

Writers Guild of America, East
250 Hudson Street, Suite 700
New York, New York 10013

* June 2015: Gawker Media employees vote to unionize (gawker.com)

I’m told that Tribune Publishing is going to have discussions with the bank that screwed up and make it clear it’s unhappy about the “Christmas Eve surprise.”

From: Tribune Publishing
Sent: Thursday, December 24, 2015 1:29 p.m.

Dear colleagues:

A processing error at our clearing bank is causing a delay in the direct deposit of some employee’s paychecks.

The bank notified our company this morning that some customers of major banks (like Chase, Bank of America and other national banking institutions) will begin receiving direct deposits today through Saturday. Customers of credit unions and regional banks will receive the direct deposits on Monday. If you normally receive your paycheck via regular mail, your payment is unaffected. The company will ensure that all employees who have been adversely affected through overdrafts or other bank fees will be reimbursed. We apologize for this unfortunate situation and plan to remedy fully.

Thank you for understanding.

On Tuesday, employees at TEGNA – the former Gannett broadcast division – learned that they’re getting a $400 bonus “for all that you’ve done throughout our fantastic first year” as a spun-off company. Earlier today, the journalists at Gannett’s newspapers learned that they’re not getting cash for the holiday, but they are getting an extra day off. Here’s Gannett CEO Bob Dickey’s memo:

Unwrap a day off!

You are the best gift we’ve had all year.

Happy Holidays! I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your efforts this year in our journey toward building our next generation media company. 2015 was a momentous year for the new Gannett and as it comes to a close, I want to personally say I appreciate all of your hard work. We’ve made significant progress in just a few months and there’s much to be proud of as we continue to leverage our combined strengths./CONTINUES Read More

Gracia Martore, CEO of TEGNA (formerly the Gannett digital/broadcast division), told her employees today that they’ll see an extra $400 in their checks or direct deposits this week. It’s a reward “for all that you’ve done throughout our fantastic first year.”

Dear Colleagues,

The end of the year is always a time for reflection. And as I look back at the past 12 months, I am incredibly proud of all that we achieved together and am thankful for all of your hard work and dedication. This has truly been a historic year for our company.

To celebrate our success and your efforts in making our company great, the leadership team and I wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve accomplished. All employees will receive a $400 (pre-tax) thank you gift for all that you’ve done throughout our fantastic first year. The gift will be distributed at the end of this week the same way you are paid, either through direct deposit or check./CONTINUES Read More

From Lee Enterprises’ Dec. 7 SEC filing:

Effective December 7, 2015, the Company’s Board of Directors approved amendments to the Amended and Restated Lee Enterprises, Incorporated 1990 Long-Term Incentive Plan … to modify its vesting provisions in the event of a change of control of the Company, along with certain immaterial changes and corrections.

lee2

Lee owns the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wisconsin State Journal and 44 other newspapers. Its share price, at last look, was $1.54.

* Lee Enterprises’ Dec. 7 SEC filing (4-traders.com)

UPDATE: Lee COO Kevin Mowbray replaces Mary Junck as CEO (stltoday.com)

Tim Ryan, who was named publisher of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday, will receive an annual base salary of $625,000, according to Tribune Publishing’s 8-K SEC filing. It adds:

He will also be entitled to receive an annual cash bonus with a target of 100% of base salary. The Company will pay Mr. Ryan $75,000 for relocation expenses, all or half of which will be subject to repayment if Mr. Ryan’s employment is terminated for cause or he resigns without good reason prior to the one- or two-year anniversary of the employment agreement, respectively.

Mr. Ryan will receive a housing allowance of $175,000 by September 30, 2015, and $87,000 on September 30, 2016. In addition, the Company will provide Mr. Ryan with temporary housing and a rental car for up to four months.

Mr. Ryan’s employment agreement also provides that for 2016, 2017 and 2018, subject to his continued employment, he will receive annual equity grants having an aggregate fair market value of $550,000 on the grant date, of which half of the value of the award will be stock options and half restricted stock units.

Footnoted‘s Michelle Leder, who tipped me off to the 8-K filing, tells Romenesko readers that Ryan’s base salary is $50,000 lower than former Times publisher Austin Beutner’s – he was fired on Tuesday – but the $337,000 in housing/moving perks for Ryan “seem a bit generous for a company that’s supposedly concerned about expenses.”

Ryan joins the Los Angeles Times from Tribune’s Baltimore Sun, where he’s been publisher since 2007.

Update – An emailer writes: “Did you notice that Tim Ryan gets an unusual two years of severance if the LA Times changes hands and he gets fired?”

* Tribune Publishing Company Form 8-K (sec.gov)
* Beutner abruptly fired as LAT publisher, Ryan steps in (latimes.com)
* Los Angeles civic leaders protest Beutner’s dismissal (laobserved.com)

Earlier on JimRomenesko.com:
* Tribune discloses $625,000 base salary for digital chief Denise Warren

Last Tuesday, the union representing journalists at the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones properties asked members if they wanted to extend their contract with a small raise, or negotiate a new one. “The results are in,” the union says, “and your answer is clear: extend the contract.” The memo:

From: IAPE TNG/CWA Local 1096
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 8:01 AM
Subject: IAPE Contract Update: Survey Says . . . !!

IAPE members – thanks to all who responded to our survey request last week.

To refresh your memory, we asked whether you would prefer to extend our current contract for another year – keeping all terms, including the Company’s flexibility to modify healthcare – or negotiate toward a brand new agreement with Dow Jones.

The results are in, and your answer is clear: extend the contract. That’s the message we received in 497 responses, while 148 told us to negotiate and 17 were undecided./CONTINUES Read More

Update: Tentative agreement reached.

Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News human resources chief Keith Black tells Guild members that, in case of a strike, they can continue working and “we will make arrangements for security to protect everyone’s safety.” He adds that “at your manager’s discretion, you may be permitted to work from home or from another remote location.”

Journalists who choose to strike are welcome to return to the newsroom when there’s a settlement “if there is still work available … [but] if there is not work available for everyone, then some of the striking employees will not be able to return at that time.”

The Philadelphia Newspaper Guild says the HR boss is trying to scare journalists into settling with management.

From: Guild Bulletin
Date: 06/25/2015 11:04 AM (GMT-05:00)
To:
Subject: GUILD BULLETIN: RESPONSE TO KEITH BLACK EMAIL

Guild members,

Keith Black’s memo regarding strike–related issues is a rather clumsy and predictable attempt to frighten our members to accept the Company’s inferior contract offer. His ‘helpful advice’ in the FAQ on how you can work in the event of a strike, that he claims the company “created” is a disingenuous blueprint on how to become a scab, that has been used by union busting employers for decades. Plagiarism in its purest form. As your bargaining committee can assure you, Black’s absence of credibility and incompetence has been consistent throughout these negotiations./CONTINUES Read More

Remember Dean Olsen, the reporter on the health-care beat who works at McDonald’s on weekends to make ends meet?

He’s still working at the fast-food chain and still trying to get raises for journalists at GateHouse Media’s Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register.

Olsen, who leads the Springfield unit of the United Media Guild, says the union is launching a radio campaign today to put pressure on GateHouse to agree to a fair contract.

“The ads will call on people to go to a special website – savethesjr.com – where they can read about our campaign, sign a petition and send an email to Kirk Davis, chief executive officer of GateHouse Media,” says the union chief.

Here’s the ad on SoundCloud, and here’s the transcript:

A lot has changed at the State Journal Register since GateHouse Media bought the paper in 2007. The printing press was outsourced to Peoria. Page designers, proofreaders, outdoors writer, food editor and other positions all eliminated. The newsroom formed a union to stop the bleeding and save quality journalism in Springfield. Go to Savethesjr.com and tell the out-of-town corporate owners enough is enough. It’s time to reinvest in your workers. That’s savethesjr.com. This message brought to you by the United Media Guild.

“Journalists at The State Journal-Register have gone more than seven years without a pay raise,” notes Olsen. “And since we talked [last October], I got a 10-cent-per-hour raise [at McDonald’s], making my hourly pay $8.35. McDonald’s generally gives raises every six months.”

* Save the State Journal-Register (savethesjr.com)
* Meet the health-care reporter who works at McDonald’s on weekends (jimromenesko.com)




hudson

In January, I received an email from freelance writer A.C. Shilton, who was trying to get paid by HudsonMOD magazine and its publisher, Shannon Steitz. She told me: “I have gotten a lawyer involved to help me go after my $675, but she’s not taking my lawyer’s calls. …Anyway, if anything this has taught me how vulnerable you really are as a freelancer. I’m not really even sure what my next step is.”

I called HudsonMOD in late January and asked the editor about Shilton not getting paid. (Steitz wasn’t available to take my call, and the editor claimed she didn’t know about past due checks.) A few weeks later, the freelancer finally got her money from Steitz. “She ignored my lawyer for a good two months before a check randomly arrived.”

Terry Ward

Terry Ward

Today I received another email about HudsonMOD not paying a freelancer; this time it was Terry Ward trying collect $3,460 for her articles. She was sent a cease-and-desist email after tweeting about her collection troubles.

“It’s been months of trying to get paid by this ‘magazine,'” says Ward, “and the minute I start tweeting that they don’t pay writers, they try to make me stop spreading it on social media.”

Sarah Rose, a former HudsonMOD contributor who also had collection problems, says of the cease-and-desist to Ward: “I’ve been freelancing for almost 20 years and it’s terrifying to get a letter from a lawyer under any circumstances. This is just plain bullying.” She adds:

I would like to draw your attention to a few things [in the cease and desist] —

1) the lawyers are offering HALF of the contracted money, as long as she stops posting on social media and signs an NDA

2) the insinuation of a “friendship” with her editor — something a female reporter hears all too frequently and that gets right under my skin.

3) the lawyer asserts industry standard is $.50/wd – implying her “friendship” got her a 2x raise. As you know, industry standard is $2/wd — most of us are making do with $1/wd.

The magazine, through its lawyer, is offering to pay Ward $2,000.

Are you accepting it? I asked the 39-year-old writer. (She’s been published in BBC Travel, Men’s Journal, Maxim and other magazines.)

“Hell, no!”

I called HudsonMOD this afternoon and, again, was told that publisher wasn’t in the office.

The cease-and-desist letter: Page one, page two, and page three.

Let me know if you’ve also had collection problems with HudsonMOD.