Debate on 1990 Pay Cut

Here's an incomplete collection of messages posted by UPI staffers who were debating a proposed 35 percent pay cut in late 1990, after the collapse of the FNN group. The pay cut proposal was adopted by Guilde members. (These messages appear exactly as posted).

Additional messages will be posted, so refresh your browser to view the latest ones:

(new material is bold-faced; last updated: 3/9/99)

359m all rv compadre g.l. marshall will have murder in his heart when he reads this, but this is not meant as a pithy rejoinder to his all-pointer (azm113). his rationale for urging a upi-wide no vote is correct. i have no quarrel with the logic of putting down this tired old hound called upi. in fact, i have told him, and others, that i will bear no ill will toward any guild member for his or her particular vote, yes or no. my reasoning for voting yes is purely, personally pragmatic. virginia's unemployment compensation tops at $178 a week. a 35 percent pay cut would wack me down to $450 a week. have no golden parachute waiting in the wings, no well-off family to spare me from the strident threats of cruel creditors. i will vote yes because it will buy me some time. i don't believe for a moment that that time will last the suggested 90 days. hovering over me in the rv buro is a huge wall calendar in which g.l. has studiously noted that nov. 23 is the date the fnn audit is due. the give-backs may buy us a week, perhaps two. but a week here, a week there, hey, that's two weeks. i sympathize with those who vote no, and i will willingly and joyously party with them if their vote puts this star-crossed company out of its misery. and it will be fist city if some half-bright, media-watching, pontificating pundit or anyone else says the workers were the ones who killed upi. incidentally, this anecdote wanders way off the issue, but i can't resist because of the captive audience: downhold club member-in-good-standing cathy cash, a victim of one of last month's many mass firings, made a comeback as a upi stringer on election night in raleigh. with atlanta's dave mould smartly desking her dictation, her yarn on north carolina's u.s. senate election copped the play for us in wednesday's late edition of the richmond times-dispatch (which, by the way, is punting us in december): this is noteworthy, nay, praiseworthy, because ap in north carolina had her outnumbered 14-1. what a she-woman and a he-man! be sure to send a nice message to mould-aj via ain. i'm sure he'd be happy to relay your regards to cathy. i thank you for your kind attention. grant-rv upi 11-07-90 08:58 pes
360m all just a few words to add to the debate: former upi staffer charles hutzler, who got the ax in september (or was in october?), was in the philadelphia office yesterday. he is on unemployment and says the salary cut would be better than an unemployment check. regards, dabney-na upi 11-07-90 09:48 pes
013m onpassing msg from o'seas staffer: waforn drop kelliher exfleming-1ky 08120 (upi) pls onpass: my thanx to all those in the (garble) guys in their prayers. there is no such thing as unemployment benefit in kenya. eye am 6,000 miles from home, eye hv a mortgage in london, a crippling bank debt occasioned by upi's non- existent overseas allowances, a house in kenya, a fiancee, two dogs, two cats and god knows how many uninvited snakes to support. there is no luxury of choice out here, so pls vote yes and shoot back later. rgds fleming-nairobi hall-wai upi 11-08-90 09:43 aes
030m all unless i misunderstand, the question we are being asked to vote on is whether to take a 35 percent pay cut for 90 days, and most likely longer, if there is a longer. we are not voting on whether to close the company. a no vote means that you did not want your pay cut by almost half, the method the company wants to use to get it the money it says it needs to stay in business past next friday. if the pay cut is rejected, the next move will be the company's. management is the only party who has an accurate picture of upi's financial health, or lack of it, and thus they will have to make a decision as to whether the thing to do at that point is close the company. neither myself nor any other employee has power to padlock doors or sweep people out of their offices. only management does. kirkel-nxf upi 11-08-90 10:57 aes
034m unipressers: since this message wire is becoming a long-winded forum, i'll be brief. i'm voting yes and will keep bailing. mullen-nx upi 11-08-90 11:15 aes
057m all fyi i sent following msg to kirkel-nxf: you are correct (nzm161). you are being asked to take a 35 percent pay cut. you are not being asked specifically whether or not upi should be shut down. but make no mistake, if the pay cut is not approved, upi's management will close the doors because tehre will not be enough money to meet the nov. 30 payroll. it is not pleasant but that's the reality of the situation. there is no guarantee that a buyer will be found, but a vote to accept a temporary pay cut gives us a chance. and frankly, after nearly 31 years with this company, i'd like yet another chance to see upi survive. i am well aware that a new management could displace me anyway. but at least upi would be alive, and there would be jobs for some. thanks. rossister-wa upi 11-08-90 12:47 pes
059m unipressers-all despite the initial anger and disappointment, and having been layed off once before in "88", i urge a "yes" vote on the wage reduction to keep any hope alive for the continued existence of upi and for "just one more day to keep beating the a&p:. caskey-dxp upi 11-08-90 12:51 pes
061m all under the sombody-still-reads-us dept: self-described news junkine robin lind of goochland, va. just phoned to say "what's this crap about a pay cut? you guys deserve a raise' ... timmons-sen upi 11-08-90 12:53 pes
062m rossiter-wa if wage cut goes through ... what happens to yearly scale hikes due employees below maximum scale in those 90 days, esp as every penny will indeed count.? chrs. rosenberger-kt (bzm) upi 11-08-90 12:55 pes
064 m lnb127 bey003 nxi001 uu lce nxm nxx led lww cccc desks-drop all buros-exberirut (upi) dear colleagues, from our beleaguered office in berirut we would like to share with you our thoughts at this critical period in our companys history. crisis is not exactly alien to our lives here, it has become our daily bread. we, as upi always did, have survived so many of them and we still believe there is always a way out. hard times have tought us to always look at the positive side of things no matter how hot the stakes may be. although we have not had the chance to meet the rest of our bureaus overseass, we know from roving clients who pass by our office here how much they appreciate copy put out by unipressers around the world as far as style, credibility, accuracy and professionalism are concerned. we, as probably many unipressers, had chances to earn more money somewhere else especially in other news agencies, but we were always convinced that we will never find such a friendly and wonderful atmosphere. not all of us are old unipressers but there is somehting in this company that makes it home. the sleepless nights we have spent at our office, either on hostage watching or trapped by street fighting, have added to that. because of all what upi means to unipressers and clients, we feel it is a pitty not to give it, maybe, a final chance. we hope our colleagues at the union share the same feeling and speak for all of us. allbest. beirut-lbt ccccccqqe upi 11-08-90 01:10 pes
100m all-unipressers just a short blurb from pvb hx visit. staffers were told that anne knott as well as several otehrs had left upi for fnn. no names onthe others were given. looks like ms. knott got herself a healthy 35 percent pay hike. also wa staffers were told wednesday that overseas employees would be exempted from the 35 percent deal. others also may be specially exempted. rgds and best (engle-wsg-midwest) cliff-upr upi 11-08-90 03:46 pes
105m all-unipressers: sorry, but i must buttinsky re the message from cliff-upr which asserted overseas employees are exempted from the 35 percent cut. all rpt all overseas employees, american and non-american, on the us-dollar payroll have, along with domestic mangement personnel, been hit by the 35 percent reduction as they are not covered by the guild. other overseass employees earning high local currency salaries are also affected by the cut. the average pay of the majority of the local staff overseass earn around 450-550 dlrs per month rpt month. others in non-editorial tasks get as low as 98 dollars a month for cleaning the office. these staffers are not affected by the 35 percent pay cut. i would also point out in places such as switzerland, and britain, where the dollar has steadily depreciated against the franc and the pound the dollar-paid upi staffers have been hit by around a 15 percent increase in their cost-of-living, so they are now taking a total hit of about 50 percent. another day, another 65 cents... keats-wa upi 11-08-90 03:59 pes
107m all just think about this, management refused to disclose the so-called "blue-chip" companies interested in buying upi and sez tt they're no fly-by-nite inquiries. frankly, i think it's bull...." however, a no vote will force the we-are-no-fly-by-nite-blue-chippers to surface and sit acorss the table to talk with us like real man. chrs. hai do-ktp upi 11-08-90 04:00 pes
109mccccx keats-wa-08150 (upi) mike, mex news agency notimex quoting milton caps x-nx as saying tt upi also considering its sale in "parts" such as sale of latam operation. is there any truth to tt? if not, we shud let notimex know bout tt. pls confirm et advise. regds. -mishra-mx ccccqqe upi 11-08-90 04:10 pes
116m all vote yes for yourself. and for other good reasons. a yes vote gives you 65 percent ofyour salary, health insurance and other benefits as long as upi lasts. one week, one month, one quarter. it also provides office space, phones and other assistance in finding a new job for the same indefinite period. a yes vote also helps those whom we've not heard much about on the message wire: our clients. like many of us, they have been with this company through the good times and these times. they have stuck by us regardless of the worst efforts of the support systems this company has erected and dismantled over the past several years. despite word that rox has been gearing up to send equipment to our clients in a hurry, there is no way our single-service clients can be converted very quickly. many of our clients are small papers and broadcasters that rox will be very slow to respond to. it is not a vote of confidence in all of our management and our series of owners. it is not a question of some we-need-a-second-wire-service holy crusade. it is for our good and for the good of those in this industry who depend on us and whom this company has treated badly in so many cases. and, again, it's a vote for ourselves. lastly, the longer this company lasts, the longer it will be before the poster children for the anal retentive foundation at rox complete their conquest. regards. magliari-cu. (direct gruff responses to czm) upi 11-08-90 04:40 pes>
132m all re fnn/upi. this from today's (11/8/90) wall street journal, datelined nx, finan-ar first 2 grafs contain sam info tt was in our stri from wednesday. pickup3rdgraf: yesterday, fnn and infotechnology said they retained wertheim schroder & co. to handle the transactions. mr. hirschfield, 53, is currently on leave as a managing director at wertheim. in an interview, fmr. hirschfield said wertheim hopes to narrow prospective buyers by the third week of december. "you can reasonably assume that most of the major media strategic buyers, both nationally and internationally, have contacted us," said mr. hirschfield. he added there was a "better than 50-50 chance" that upi could be sold in its entirety rather than in pieces. candidates to purchase fnn are said to include dow jones & co., paramount communications inc., capital cities/abc inc., and general electric co.'s national broadcasting co. unit. spokesmen for dow jones and paramount said they don't comment on rumors. although capital cities/abc held talks early last year about an fnn purchase, a company official said no talks are currently under way. nbc cable has been considered a strong candidate because it co-owns fnn's main competitor, cable news and business channel, and could benefit from fnn's 35 million subscribers. but thomas rogers, president of nbc cable, said a purchase of fnn "is unlikely." mr. rogers said cnbc has its own "momentum" with 17 million subscribers. fnn might have a difficult time finding any buyer in the current tough environment for media properties, particularly at the price range of $150 million to $200 million the company is said to be seeking for it. one industry executive considering a purchase said that price is "unrealistic." messrs. hirchsfield and tessler said that "serious interest has been expressed by several parties" in the purchase of upi, which is 97 percent owned by infotechnology, "and/or some of its lines and businesses." upi has less than 400 u.s. newspapers as clients, compared with rival associated press, which has over 1,300 clients. -30- upi 11-08-90 05:26 pes
143m uu lee lat lbt ccccxx ne at euromedaf-exisher 08090 (me) i was as much in two minds about accepting this job as many in the united states are about their vote. what swung the balance, you may ask. i'll tell you what. upi never made anyone financially rich, nor for that matter financially secure. certainly not me. certainly not you. what it has given me in 14 years and i venture to say many of you, are chances to travel, to write agency copy, to feel the adrenalin flow, to always be the fighting underdog, to have pride in all those things and to have the undeniable respect of our colleagues. many of us have bylined across the world in prestigious nupes we otherwise only could have dreamed about. you have all stay on with upi despite the trials, and are an immeasurable tribute -- not to management which in many cases has not deserved you -- but undeniably to the industry and most of all to yourselves. you are news machines capable of fitting into any part of the news gathering process. that is more than anyone else in the business can say in these times of specialization. when rox and rand reporters see one of us at a job, they chuckle -- nervously -- ask us endearingly how "old upi" is going -- and then start working like little gnats to beat us to the telephones. in many cases they still fail. i asked an old unipresser and former buo manager of ours the other day how it was to work for reuters. "well," he said carefully, "it's, er, great. there are no money problems. i get to the office at 9 and leave again at 5. you know i'm one of 10 at the office. i read the papers, my bureau manager gives me a story to write, i sit there and write the story then i go home." "but what if a big story breaks?" i asked incredulously, thinking of the hours and hours that my small children have had to do without their father. "oh -- someone else who's been there a lot longer will get that, sometimes i get a sidebar to do to the main story." "and how long are you going to stay there?" i asked. "right now it's just a question of the money. i'll stay until i feel i have enough saved and then i'll find something else where i'm not just a small brick in a giant house." first i thought of my days and nights of interrupted sleep, lousy pay, angry family, broken promises, canceled theaters and concerns and thought he lived in heaven. then i thought of the malta summit where i was ordered to take a holiday charter flight to keep it cheap, arrived to find no upi telephone or office space, botched hotel bookings and all the rest of that all too familiar debacle. but when it hit the fan and everything was eventually, against all odds, sorted out of a fashion, i got to work with the best people in the business. we had fun. we got stuck into a great story. it was a family of reporters on site, with help from dedicated members across the world, that no-one could match. these are the emotions that management has always played on, and come up trumphs with, when dealing with unipressers. unfortunately for us, that does not make the sentiments any less true. as cue in paris so poigantly put it yesterday, those who have sweated over the years to ensure upi's survival, excellence and integrity -- will n-o-t be the ones to slam the last nail. as for myself, what i can hope to do is to serve your interests as best i can. to serve our clients' interests with you. to consult with you and to be honest with you. i believe in openness as the cure for many evils. i cannot promise you that things will get better in the short term. they are unlikely to. but i can try to make sure that they won't get worse, and i will try to make your difficult positions easier to stomach. all i will ask from you in return is to continue to be loyal to each other and to your professionalism, to be honest with me, and do what you are the best at doing in order to maintain and increase the client base in our division. i will be calling each of you in the next few days to discuss things and i will be in the london office today around noon. finally, i do not believe that upi is in its death throes. i am convinced that we will exist a year from now, in better shape and with more possibilities. allbest, isherwood-led ccccqqe upi 11-08-90 07:20 pes
145m all i want to share with you the following messages from roy e. bode, editor of the dallas times herald, and ed rademaekers, executive of the san antonio light, both faithful upi clients: from roy bode: "united press international represents an outstanding tradition of enterprises and aggressiveness in american journalism. but it is more than a tradition. it is an essential. "upi provides the diversity and balance that editors ought to require and readers ought to demand of their newspapers. i hope that everyone within upi and within the industry will work together to ensure that this important news source prevails in this time of adversity. we need you enormously." from ed rademaekers: "we know well the meaning of competition here in south texas, where we wage one of the few remaining newspaper battles. "time and again united press international has given us the edge that we need to produce a superior report. "plain and simple, we need upi. our thoughts are with you. good luck." --schwartz-wa upi 11-08-90 07:32 pes
157m unipressers i u can stand one more missive on the question of the day ... this one will be brief: i just received my ballot and i marked the "yes" block. my initial inclination wsa to do the opposite, but tt won't accomplish anything other than putting all of us out on the street on nov. 18. i was locked out of the buro for a day and a half this week because the rent hdn't been paid, so i hd a brief taste of what it feels like. it's not nice. i really doubt there will be a buyer for this sinking ship, but who knows? in the meantime it buys some time, whether to find the elusive white knight or for more unipressers to find other jobs. my mortgage holder did not vote itself a 35 percent cut in the payment, but i'll deal with that later. chrs et rgds. van dongen-hm upi 11-09-90 08:54 aes
167m all i joined upi in february 1985. for personal reasons, i've never joined the union, but have paid without complaint my fair share (sounds like the united drive campaign, doesn't it?). during the contract strife when upi declared it would no longer collect wsg dues from any worker who did not want to pay them, i chose to continue having the dues taken from my salary because as a beneficiary of the collective bargaining process and subsequent higher wages, i felt it was only fair. but now as it turns out, because i am not a guild member, i can't give my thumbs up or thumbs down to the proposal to lose 35 percent of my pay, or as the company claims, to decide whether i want to work after next week. i am not the only person in this voiceless position of uncertainty -- witness the fate of non-guild editors and our overseas colleagues who are in the same leaky boat. this is not a complaint nor is it an effort to enter the debate over whether the company's proposal is valid or not. i just ask that those of you who are voting to consider that there are others out here who feel a little more helpless than the wsg members who are casting ballots in what ultimately may well be an election of futility. but enough of this. there are still clients out there to serve for at least another week. chrs, best wishes et 73s. sielicki-tl upi 11-09-90 09:56 aes
168m unipressers in the great debate, i can do no better than repeat what i have told my younger son who is now a reporter at the denver post. as a christmas present a couple of years ago, he wrote and framed for me this poem which now hangs in my office in the state department: "the wire service man "black ribbons, coffee cups. chewing gum, cigar butts, felt pens, ink spots, shirt sleeves, mug shots. "features desk, sports desk, business desk, news desk, paris time, london time, moscow time, our time. "politicians lie, shots fire, "he's on his beat, "he's on the wire." in the last week, i have written him, approximately, the following: the upi message wire these days is filled with heart-rending farewells and dire warnings from the management that we can't possibly make it unless we all give 35 percent more blood than we gave yesterday. already the newsroom in washington is looking like the night of the living dead. the critical moment, according to the dire warnings, is whether the guild personnel will agree to a 35 percent cut. but the guild personnel, including this person, are wondering whether the management is playing with a full deck. what is now becoming pretty apparent is that the last set of management did some pretty funny bookkeeping in order to make the various organizations look pumped up, the accounting equivalent of steroids. i suspect this amounted to charging a high fee for the upi service to fnn and fnn charging reciprocally high fees to upi for its services, such as the computer and stock tables. the effect was to inflate the income levels for both organizations, by moving paper back and forth, in order to attract potential media investors. these investors were, however, distressed by the fact their own quarterly profit dropped from 34 percent to only 28 percent and in order to keep their stock price high enough to avoid unfriendly takeovers (nasd:shark) announced they were dropping several hundred employees plus, the upi service. in any case, these sharp-eyed bargain-shoppers are not inclined to look seriously at any organization with funny books, including upi. and so, we await the future with the added responsibility, which we don't usually have, of influencing our own destiny by our votes. my journalistic instincts tell me that we don't have enough information. my heart tells me that a loyal work force will prevail over the accumulation of crooks, boosters, and amateurs that have brought us to the brink of ruin. but (the head checking in again) says that the stripping of people and clients that has gone on the last few weeks hasn't left enough to make any difference. the heart checks in again by pointing out that the remander are the hogs, the middle of the line, including management people, guys who have stayed when the rest have left. and we owe them, plus ourselves, something. leaving my son totally confused except for the final parental advice, i add: i want you to realize that you are in a profession which has been enormously satisfying and rewarding to me, but it is an industry which is shrinking and that means people losing jobs. so, how do i vote on friday, my son might ask? stay tuned, i say, but it has everything to do with: do we believe the numbers we have been given by management? will our sacrifice now be rewarded later by equity or something else? sad, but that is the kind of balance sheet consideration that dedicated journalism has come to at upi. jimanderson-wa upi 11-09-90 10:42 aes
169m all: despite all those strys on upi closing down by rand, rox et other smaller news agencies in recent days, two prospective central american clients called us just this week to inquire bout cost of upi services. they're quite interested. and, in fact, our panamanian staffer is negotiating a deal tdy with a local radio station. while voting, pls keep those things in mind fellow unipressers. and also think of hundreds of unipressers overseas who cannot vote but are curiously waiting to see whether they'll hv the job by end of next week or not. regds et gud luck folks. -mishra-mx upi 11-09-90 10:48 aes
196m all some 27 years ago, my father told me, after losing his job at the new york mirror after 40 years, that he would shoot me if i followed in his foot steps. sorry pop -- i did. for the past 20 plus years with upi, i found a home, and i am not about to let that house burn with first trying to save some or all of it. for the record -- if i get the ballot in time -- i will vote yes. schnaue-nxf upi 11-09-90 01:06 pes
183m all i am the lone voting member from upi left on the wire service guild's executive committee. i am the delegate. i also am the upi vice president- elect of the wsg, mostly because nobody else was stupid enough to run for the position. i voted yes on the wage cut despite the guild's recommendation to vote no. the reason i voted yes was personal: i am the sole support of three people and my wife is due to give birth to our second child on valentine's day. everybody has a personal decision to make on how to vote. i know i will be condemned by some of my current and former union brothers and sisters for the way i voted, but i did so to protect my own. i also thought i would share how i voted with you as your lone elected, voting representative on the wsg's executive committee. rgds and may god bless all of us. moody-pss upi 11-09-90 11:46 aes
(more in part II)