Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The definition of Irony

Here's a quote from a story published at on Wednesday:

"The Oregonian announced Wednesday that a long-standing and unusual job-security pledge for full-time employees against layoffs for economic and technological reasons will end in February of next year. Publisher Fred A. Stickel cited the need for flexibility in the future given the difficult economy and declining revenues the newspaper faces."

Not surprisingly, this was posted to at 4:35 pm, just about the time that most of the traffic to the site slows down - all the 8 to 5 people are shutting down for the day, wont' be back to the site until they are at work the next day and by then, the story will be buried.

There are a lot of changes going on at The O these days. Usually, there are many rumors for many weeks before a big announcement is made. This past week, there have been a lot of murmurs going on about an upcoming restructuring of our department. Everyone has their theory - no one really knows and we aren't even sure when we'll be told. So, we've been pretty busy focused on figuring that out.

When we got to work Wed morning and saw an email that said we had a meeting at 9:30 for the entire company, we didn't know what to make of it. We were so busy talking about it, we didn't have a chance to get online and do any checking. After the meeting I looked at and saw that posted at 9:10 pst was the announcement that we heard in our 9:30 meeting. The other blogs that I read regarding this stuff were also all abuzz with the same annoucement from other papers. I guess since we are on the west coast, we were the last to get the news.

Either way - it wasn't good. I can't say I was surprised. They made these changes in New Jersey (except for the loyalty pledge) about 6 months ago and we are usually that far behind them. I think the biggest shock with the discontinuation of the employee loyalty pledge.

To people who don't work for Advance, you can't understand this pledge. My family and friends always scoffed at it, but those of us who work there believed in it. It was one of the coolest things about our company - they would take care of us, no matter what. They didn't have to, they chose too - that is why it was cool. When I was hired 10 years ago, I sat through an orientation and the first thing they talked about was this pledge and how important it was. Last year, we got a letter in the mail clarifying the pledge. It is talked about often around the building.

For a while now, people have been saying they thought it would go away. I kept saying that it wouldn't. Because why have a pledge against layoffs due to economic hardships only to cancel it when the economy gets bad? That is the question I'm asking today. I can't say I am surprised by this announcement, but I am disappointed. For better or worse, until things get worse and then I'm out of here. I'll always love you, unless I change my mind. I'll be there when you need me, unless I have something better to do. There's no way I'd miss it, unless I have a better offer. You get my point.

After that was announced, none of the rest really mattered. Pay 25% of our health care - fine. 6 more days off without pay - whatever. We've had it good for a long time. The benefits allotted me have been beyond anything I would have anyplace else and I have always been thankful.

We're a business. That I understand. I just am confused about how it got to this point. I mean, we've had this loyalty pledge that said as long as you were "unrepresented" (non-union), full-time and did your job satisfactorily, you wouldn't be laid off. If you didn't do your job satisfactorily, you weren't protected. Although it would seem like you were. The culture has been such that people were not fired. I can count on one hand how many people I know who were fired over the last 10 years and I suspect they were all paid handsomely to just go away.

I have always wondered how different things would be if the ones who should have been fired, actually were. My bet is that we'd still have a loyalty pledge.

So what happens now? And really, does anyone care but us?

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