Friday, January 08, 2010

The Downward Spiral at the Los Angeles Times

The announcement of the shuttering of the Los Angeles Times Orange County Production Facility came as no surprise to the majority of workers in Operations, those that were shocked believed in their Tribune Boss', which I still cannot understand to this day. Management's primary goal is to reduce costs and improve the bottom line, profits. Some in management appear to enjoy cutting off the livelihood of my colleagues while others are deeply troubled.

The Blogosphere is a buzz with the decision of the Los Angeles Times to closed the Costa Mesa Facility with incorrect accounts of eighty pressmen and women to be laid off in this never ending spiral to the death of the hard copy of the newspaper we call home. The fact is thirty-nine pressmen and women are being given pink slips, with the addition of forty-one employees from Operations getting the boot. As the information flows in I will report actual numbers in each department affected.

As the news broke yesterday many employees texted and called with questions such as "Tell me this isn't true Ed?", or "Is this a mistake", and also "This has to be a rumor, our plant manager (Happy Boots) told us we could not produce the newspaper out of one facility". Unfortunately it's the truth, as we suggested last year, just two months earlier than anticipated.

For the employees remaining in Operations at the Los Angeles Times, start acting as if you were unemployed yourself and begin cutting expenses as Transcontinental is coming to town.


Old OC said...

Hi Ed..

THE RULES... (1) NO personal attacks. (2) Please stay on topic when making comments. (3) No cussing. No spitting. No head butting. (4) Tuck your shirt tail in. (5) If all of the rules above aren't followed, your comments won't appear here.

I guess Ronnie doesn't have to follow the rules. It's also sad that you do not allow comments on Ronnie's post. As a result we all lose!!!!

Have a good day...

Andy said...

The VP of Operations. has saved the Tribune close to 2 million dollars just on the pressmen/union.
$35 per hour X 35 hours per week X at least 21 weeks of severance X at least 70 press people laid off.
That's around 1.8 million dollars just in severance pay left on the table by union members! Not a firm number, i bet it's really higher. Yeah, go get 'em Ronnie! bullhorn and all!

jeffrey said...

I think it's a shame that some beancounter from DirecTV takes over the hallowed halls of the Los Angeles Times.......If the WSJ/Times press switch is can this happen??
Ronnie's "tell-it-like-it-is" language is perfectly apt for this further miscarriage in the running (down) of the Los Angeles Times.
This man, Eddie Frankenstein, should not even be close to an LA Times newsrack, let alone run the place.
We sadly know the business is changing......but it only hastens its demise when know-nothings like this man get to run it.
The Los Angeles Times was built on a foundation of freedom, truth and the basics of journalism.
And the journalism part was taken seriously.
Now, It's being run as some corporate afterthought.
I know the people who were proudly called "Timesmen" are suffering......and society will, too.

--jeff prescott

Robert said...

I am not surprised by Ed’s statement that many employees did not believe that this change was coming and/or still believe that Transcontinental is not coming in to print the Times.
Both Moe and I had stated in previous post that this was going to happen, and it is beyond me why some operation employees believe the lies that are being told to them by management, and if you think that your immediate supervisors knew nothing of this, you are sorely mistaken. You must remember that they are agents of the company and will lie to you as they are directed.
Ed does have his numbers right as far as the lay offs are concerned, both in the pressroom and throughout the rest of operations. Considering that Ed is from the pressroom and might not be privy to the machinations of the other operation departments, allow me to share information that was obtained from a reliable source.
The initial lay offs in the non-union departments were done by seniority so that a target number could be reached with little or no questioning of the lay off procedure. However, as lay offs continue, it will not be strictly based on seniority; employees who have had attendance or disciplinary issues will also be laid off regardless of their seniority status. From managements perspective, “considering that the possibility of a volatile work environment is imminent, we want to preempt any situation that can be detrimental to a productive workforce by eliminating those employees who have been disruptive.”
I suggest you heed Ed’s warning. Transcon is coming in and you will be displaced.

Moe said...

I have to say this about the closing of the OC facility and the rumors swirling about for the last few weeks:

1. I made up the rumor about Transcon. It’s, at best, a lucky guess. Otherwise, it’s a malicious rumor started by me and confirmed by other jokers. No doubt that OC will either be mothballed or eventually be re-opened by a company other than LAT. I would be surprised if Masthead came along and pulled all those Colorliners out. They are there now, but not for that purpose.

2. If you were surprised about the closing of the OC plant, it must have been because you were surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.

3. Ronnie Pineda needs to step down as leader of the union. His rant – posted today on this blog – isn’t just angry indignation, it’s an over-the-top, out-of-control, inarticulate, profane, and inappropriate self-righteous rant that is an embarrassment. It’s degrading to be a known member of this union lead by Pineda. The pressroom deserves leadership that is realistic and cooperative. It’s clearer than ever that nobody listens to Ronnie and that he has nothing constructive to add to the dialogue.

4. The assertion that the production managers are liars, well, judge for yourself, but has there been a change? We production employees have ALWAYS been the last to know about a major change. Anyway, if I were a manager, I wouldn’t tell asswipe Ronnie either…

5. I hope that the managers have learned that laying-off in serial reverse-seniority order just leaves you with a higher percentage of slugs than you had originally. Doing the minimum is a way of life at the Times, though. Maybe it’s too much to hope that somebody actually documented the negligent, the lazy, the underachievers, the incompetent, the work-avoidant, and the Worker’s Comp cheats.

6. It's also clear that Captain Queeg-Newton is endeavoring to re-live his union-busting days at the Tribune. He revels in his former glory days as the man who fired union pressmen and hired cheaper and better labor off of the street. (Well, that's how he told the story.)

Whatever. Start praying. Save us Jeebus!

$.02 said...

Old OC...Did you finally get THE memo? I think Ronnie can be forgiven his trespass; it's the first lucid missive he's written; and there are no lies in his rant. Though colorful, it is just business.

Andy… and how do you come up with these figures? Are you a minimalist? Or a bean-counter?

Jeff… read some books about how the Times was born, grown, and now busted down before you start trashing Eddie—he’s just the latest of the “in one door and out the other door” puppets (as Robert puts it, an agent of the company).

Robert… Moe says it best, “…a lucky guess…” Rumors and innuendo have always been the pressroom standard. If the “hallowed halls” Jeff writes about did not have an idea of what to do next, all the agents have to do is listen to B-S-ing around the folder; supposition of what might be happening next.

Moe… point by point shows that being inarticulate is not limited to former truck drivers/turned pressmen/turned Union President. When last I heard, rumors spread on the floor—if traceable, were dealt with handily.

The bottom line in all this: in March we will have five presses worth of spare parts and a weaker work force due to the loss of some very fine people. And Mr. Newton does his thing—“You people make too much money for doing this job.” day one Oly pressroom, outside the ink room. I was there.

I have been at the Times, in the pressroom, for 23 years, and soon that won’t mean much. Too bad that the guano stirrers don’t have better things to do than trivialize the dying of a career. Of many careers.

Andy said...

$.02, no I’m no bean counter, I can barely count but I know a bad contract when I see one. Presenting a contract that allows press people to be given less than other production employees as a severance package is inexcusable. I understand now the rush to get it voted on. The number one priority was to collect dues and secure union positions. Yes, the big-wigs at the Times are heartless bad guys (blah, blah, blah)but that’s what big-wigs do. Your union big-wigs are supposed to protect you from the wolves, not fleece you too! I arrived at those numbers by factoring the severance package received by other workers, 1 week of pay for every year of service plus one week. I've been corrected since that post, there was 60 days of pay without having to work and by dropping the grievances an additional 12 weeks of pay was won so I stand corrected. Press people got 5 weeks of severance, which was equal to what a 4 year non-union employee got. I averaged the time to 20 years of service per laid off press person, that would equal 21 weeks of severance vs the 5 weeks Ronnie agreed to. 21 minus 5 equals 16 weeks. I think the latest count is around 100 press people laid off. Some of the guys got the ax twice so I don't know the actual number but 100 is close. Salarly average of 1225 a week times 16 weeks times 100, so yeah i stand by that number
2 million Ronnie cost the rank and file that he is protecting. Oh yeah let's throw dues in there too.

Ronnie Pineda said...

Old O.C.
Ed links to my site with my permission. If Ed links my posts on his site, thats his decision to do so void of THE RULES.

Don't act as though you have not broken those same rules when attacking me personally in your comments on Ed's Blog.

My critics know that I will not post their comments on my blog so comments were left by these same individuals on Ed's.

Andy, you and others continue to think that I make decisions alone. That is not the case, every decision has been reached either by an Executive Board vote or a vote by the membership, not me.

I am also amazed at why it is assumed that I am responsible for the company's decision to offer our Brothers and Sisters less severance than the non-union employees.

If it were in my power I would make sure everyone received the same, but its not, Russ is responsible for this situation and enjoys having the finger pointed at me instead of him.

As usual the company is not under a microscope, I am. Why don't you judge Russ and his cronies the same?

We sought the same severance being offered to non-union employees and we will do the same this time so go ask Russ if he'll agree to give the same, then determine who is out to screw everyone.

Do you think it is professional and ethical for management to blatently lie when asked specifically asked " is there plans to close Orange County?" and they repeatedly reply "NO"

Don't believe what he says because he doesn't feel obligated to tell the truth any way. If I lied to everyone as he does, I'd have been strung up in the nearest tree a long time ago.

I will continue to tell the truth, you continue to accept his lies.

Moe said...


1. I'm untouchable (but not in the Indian sense of the word).

2. There is no way to trivialize the careers of LAT production employees because their importance and worth has been inflated beyond recognition.

3. Newton is right, and you should recognize that fact. Are you really worth the kind of money you make? The game is almost over, and if you are in still in denial about your real worth in the marketplace, you ought to seek some professional help.

$.02 said...


why bring Hindu religion into the fray? Are you starting a rumor about farming out the work to our sub-continent neighbors?

Russ never has understood the workers; save his own "I get mine..." thought processes.

When was the last time he had an original idea to solve issues on the press, or in Operations? Is he worth the money he makes? Are you?

We are paid what we are paid. A living wage. We are not people who have had careers overblown as to value and worth. (At least not any more than the other people in this company.)

As to professional help... I am not the one enjoying the misery of others by spreading malicious rumors in this current economy/market place.

Wolf said...

The fundamentals of compensation. You get paid what you are worth. At this point Sr. Management is as worthless as the manner in which they are saving money. You can cut jobs to save money, but then so can my children, and growth of a business is the real measure by which all should be rewarded. Therefore all of Sr. Management has failed colossally, thus they deserve to get paid 0 dollars for cutting jobs as a way of creating value to the company. Shame on the new regime for thinking they are good at what they do by cutting our way to the future.