McClatchy execs get bonuses, worker bees get furloughs


I didn’t see it mentioned in The Sacramento Bee, but last week, workers at the daily newspaper ratified a new labor contract, with a few employee protections and some major new concessions.

The new contract was overwhelmingly approved by workers—more than 90 percent voted “yes.” But when I talked to Bee guild representative Ed Fletcher about the deal, he didn’t sound overjoyed.

“Given where the industry is right now, we think it’s about as good as we’re going to do.”

The new contract doesn’t restore any of the 6 percent pay cuts that were imposed last year. But the company did lift its freeze on raises, so folks who are still on the payroll can now begin to claw their way back to their old salaries.

The contract does preserve large severance pay packages for some veteran employees while capping severance pay for more recent hires. Of course, the new cap is 26 weeks, down from 40 for the old-timers; that’s still pretty generous by most people’s standards.

Probably the biggest concession made by union members is to allow management to impose up to two weeks of unpaid furloughs on employees—though the company says it has no immediate plans to do so. The company will also have more freedom to turn full-time positions into part-time gigs. Late last month, Fletcher wrote on the guild blog that this will likely have the biggest impact on critics and folks with “specialty beats.”

Meanwhile, as Fletcher noted, top McClatchy Co. execs Pat Talamantes, Bob Weil and Frank Whittaker are all due for big payouts this year—$175,000 each—because the company stock has begun to rebound from its previous slump. It’s part of the company’s “retention plan” for upper management.

After all, who knows what would happen to papers like the Bee without the leadership of these highly paid executives?

Back in March, I tried and failed to get someone at McClatchy to justify these major bonuses while the people who do the actual work are getting layoffs and furloughs.

“We don’t think anyone should be earning that kind of bonus at a time like this,” Fletcher told SN&R. “Frankly, we thought it was disgusting, and we think readers will find it disgusting, too.”

Well, they would, if anyone at the Bee reported it that way.


Compiled from Snog.