Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Job for Life pledge: Either the pledge, or your life, just got shorter

This morning I've been inundated with a series of comments and off-line tips about the announcement of the end of the lifetime job pledge at Booth papers. That would be the papers who haven't already flushed the pledge through more draconian measures.

Word from Grand Rapids is that it was announced that the job pledge would end in February 2010 and reportedly the publisher of the Kalamazoo Gazette, in a surprise employee meeting, announced the same thing.

If those two papers have dumped the job pledge, you can bet it has ended for the Muskegon Chronicle and Jackson Cit-Pat as well.

This has to be a precursor of more layoffs and salary cuts.

Not really a big surprise. We were always "at will" employees anyway and there have been firings of a questionable nature. In one case the Flint Journal didn't defend a firing of a colleague on its merits, but on the basis that all employees were "at will" and could be let go at any time.

The "lifetime job pledge" was never worth more than the paper it was written on anyway. It was worth something in those years when you could believe "the word" of the people running the company. Today, not so much.


Anonymous said...

former newsie said...

You're right on the mark, Jim.

Anonymous said...

The jobs pledge was always absurd. Anybody who believed it would stand in a free-market economy is foolish. If Booth hadn't tried to uphold it from 2000-2009, the company probably would have been able to downsize gradually like many other media companies, rather than undertake the massive, tectonic right-sizing moves required in the past year and a half. The pledge was an artificial limitation on natural business operation in a capitalist society. In capitalism, companies reduce headcount as revenues decline... but the Booth companies weren't able to do that. Hence the massive upheaval of 2008-09. Capitalism 101.

Pendragon said...

CAMELOT (Booth Newspapers version)

Back then we never worked too late on Friday
At 37-and-a-half we stopped
The benefits and pay were sweet in my day
In Camelot.

All layoffs were forbidden till forever
They never had to fear a union shop
Our health-care would be paid for, ending never,
In Camelot

Camelot! Camelot!
It know it sounds a bit naïve,
But in Camelot, Camelot
We wanted to believe…

Our pay came three-and-fifty times a year here
The other shoe, it seemed, would never drop
There never seemed a cause for anxious fear here
In Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!
We always thought we were immune
But in Camelot, Camelot
It ended all too soon.

The pension, we were told, would keep on growing
We’d fill our dippers from the brimming pot
In short, we felt, there’s not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
in Camelot.

(Reprise, sung by last surviving Content Director to wide-eyed young intern:)
Each evening, from December to December,
Before your bedtime Twitter post you jot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask ev’ry person if he’s heard the story,
And Tweet it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
Now say it out with pride and joy!

“Camelot! Camelot!”
Yes, Camelot, my boy!

Where once we never worked too late on Friday
At 37-and-a-half we stopped…
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.