Debate on 1990 Pay Cut - Part II

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)

189m all (vote) eye'm the regional guild representative for for upi editorial workers in new york city. eye've been with upi for 8 1/2 years. a lot of people have been asking me how eye'm going to vote and why. like moody, eye'll break with the guild and vote "yes." eye'd like to vote "no" out of spite, and yesterday eye might have, but today eye don't think that would be in my best interest or that of other remaining upi workers. if the cuts pass and eye can't stand it, eye can quit, collect unemployment and hunt for another job. if eye'm crazy enough to want to stay, at least eye may have the chance. eye encourage anyone who hasn't cast their vote yet to vote "yes." rgds. tad goodwin-nxf-upr-due, guild rep upi ny editorial workers, editor wireport. upi 11-09-90 12:41 pes
190m all: i wish to emphasize a point made in the hc meeting with pvb last night, though it didn't seem to get through. no matter how many times it is repeated, the fact is that the fate of this company is not in the hands of the guild-covered employees and never has been. if the pay cut is voted down and this company goes out of business, the responsibility will notbe on our shoulders. we had no vote when upi reorganized its sales staff for the fifteenth time or when our product was steadily eroded away. no one consulted us when upi shut down half the states while blithely telling clients our coverage from "stringer-to- correspondents" was as good as ever. if this company shuts down, and that tragedy looks more and more likely, there are many people to share the blame, but those voting this week are not among them. this is not a reason to vote no. in fact, there are very valid personal and economic reasons (well expressed on this wire by others) to vote yes. but whichever way we vote, no one should be under the illusion that the fate of upi is in our hands. it never was fuss-hca upi 11-09-90 12:44 pes
191m all a lot of angry things have been said over the past few days and deserved to be. but as voting continues people should keep a few things in mind and start doing other things as of right now. a few points: 1. it's true upi and its people have been jerked around over the past three years or so (not to mention past decade or so but let's pass on that). yet despite the sadness of seeing our friends laid off, some in pretty callous ways, we should keep our eyes on the prize. the aim now is to get upi out of the hands of doctor doom and the infoclones and on to its next incarnation. we can't be sure that will happen, but eye for one would like to get one more shot at returning to viability and maybe greatness. 2. it's a cold cruel world out there and getting worse. for a lot of people upi is a kind of family and a lifeboat in choppy shark-infested waters. for them it makes sense to keep on bailing. if you feel like swimming for it go ahead and good luck. any of us may choose to do the same. but don't pull the plug on those who are burdened with kids et mortgages and such. for what its worth, i'd rather be on a story than on the dole, even at 65 percent. it's also axiomatic that it's easier to find a new job when you've still got one and have some bargaining position. think about it. 3. winning is often just a question of keep your options open. voting no means cutting off your options. it might make you feel good for 10 minutes, or longer if you're jumping to another job, but many of you will always wonder how it might have gone if you'd given upi a chance. with all due respects to the wobblies among you, unipressers have been badly served by their union in this matter, as in others. it takes cojones of brass for the wsg to stand on principle here after acquiescing just five months ago in a ludicrously bad contract that is already a dead letter. i quit the union over that issue -- and yes, over dues way out of proportion to performance -- and i don't regret it even if i wish i had a vote now. i trust in the good sense of my colleagues. i'd only like to suggest that after the vote on upi's future there be another vote to decide if the wsg is the best organization to represent workers in this company. i'm no union-buster, but neither do i have any knee-jerk sympathy for trade unionists stuck in the past. 4. if we are going to go forward we have to reexamine everything we have been doing. that's the real problem at upi: the world was changing and we didn't keep up with it. maybe in the weeks ahead those of us who still care can take charge of our own corners of upi. leadership has been in short supply at the top for so long that at this point we should all be making some of our own decisions about what upi ought to be. obviously if it is bought up by someone else will be making those decisions, but maybe our ideas about where this wire shd go will dovetail with those of whoever buys upi. in any case we won't be sitting dead in the water like we have been for too long. that's my 2 1/2 cents worth. murphynxf upi 11-09-90 12:46 pes
205m all eye feel, reluctantly, that a "yes" vote on the pay cut is our only alternative. let me share a few thoughts with you as to why. reading the message wires these past few days, i've seen a lot of pain and a lot of anger come to the surface. i've only been here 14 months, so i wasn't around the last time management went to the well and demanded paycuts. eye can imagine that for the old-timers around here, it's a case, as yogi would say, of 'deja vu all over again'. i've heard the horror stories about wot went down during the last crisis. and over the past few days, weeks and months, i've seen with my own eyes some pretty crummy things, like whole platoon-loads of unipressers all over the country getting axed or taking 'voluntary' buyouts so they could get one step ahead of the grim reaper. the state wires, which were once full of copy in most cases, are a shell of their former selves -- there's nobody out there to write that copy any more, in most cases, as bureau after bureau has folded. and even here in nx, the bullets lately have been hitting closer to home. i've had to bid friends and co-workers goodbye, and saw at least one case where a 40-year-plus unipresser was shoved out with no notice, no severance, no nuthin'. on top of this, management now wants us to agree to cut 35 percent off salaries that weren't terribly hefty to begin with. it won't show us the books. it asks us to trust it and believe what it says on faith -- while at the same time, news reports about this company are full of allegations about cooked books, big eight accounting firms like deloitte touche don't just refuse to certify reports on a whim. i'm picking up strong feelings that people are afraid we're all being played for suckers -- that shell games are going on to squirrel away assets and that the big boys will walk out of this mess eventually after upi is sold or folded or whatever, with cash in their pockets and stock options and golden parachutes intact, while the working stiff journalists who make this organization really run will be collecting unemployment and picking up soda cans for the deposit money. we've seen the way the grafters and fast-buck con men used the s&ls as their own private piggy banks and ran other companies into the ground -- and somehow always came out, if not smelling like roses, at least landing on their feet and with their hefty assets mostly intact -- and the little guys, in most cases, left holding the bag. eye can see that you're all pretty damn mad about wot's going down. eye know i'm mad about it as well. but angry as we might all be, now is not the time FOR EMPTY GESTURES. voting "no" on the pay cut might be viscerally satisfying. BUT, assuming the management makes good on its threat to shut down nov. 17 -- and EYE DON'T think they're bluffing, boys and girls -- telling them to take their PAY cut and shove it would be at best a pyrrhic victory. WE'd have our pride, dignity and self-respect -- but you can't pay bills with pride, your kids can't eat dignity. you landlord or mortgage company doesn't want your self-respect -- only youor check on the first of the month. voting "yes" on the pay cut will be painful, and it sure isn't a panacea. we may all end up company-less in the end anyway. but at least there is a chance for upi's continued survival, and breathing space for those who wish to stay on while looking for something else somewhere else. no disrespect is intended for anybody who sincerely feels the other way. thnx et rgds to all, deck-nxf upi 11-09-90 02:02 pes
206m unipressers i've stayed out of the message traffic on this so-called "future of upi" vote but i feel i have one point to make. whether u vote yes or no, i think we must realize that this need for us to express emotion is because the company has put us between a rock and a hard place and maybe between other more unpleasant things. in many cases, a layoff would have been better than sifting through this time of doom. i know of very, very few companies that have asked their employees to take such cuts and other throat-slitting measures as unipressers have suffered, once again, we are left with the worst scenario possible and the risk of future guilt over our decision and it makes me damn angry sometimes. however, i can never forget what my girlfriend keeps telling me, that the "finest and most intelligent and interesting people" work for upi. shomon-gx upi 11-09-90 2:10 pes
208m all how committed to us are our current clients? a couple of weeks ago, the owners of the two richmond nupes said they will pull the plug on their full upi service dec4 and quit paying us 250-grand a year. they said they were tired of dealing with upi's problems. rgds paul-wasports upi 11-09-90 02:26 pes
214m all i haven't joined this debate and don't intend to linger, but remember two things please: 1 -- it is easier to get a job when you have one. 2 -- there is a recession out there, and the longer you delay collecting unemployment pay, the better the chance the economy will have picked up before you run out of benefits. reynolds-ntl upi 11-09-90 03:00 pes
230m all i have stayed out of the rhetoric on the message wire this week, but i feel i must react to dan carmichael's message. he fails to account in his opus -- which was in my opinion vindictive -- for those of us who don't live in $500 a week unemployment states. georgia has a maximum of $175 a week, and i have bills to pay. not only that, but my mother is dying of cancer, and she has no one to care for her but me. when they come to evict me for not paying the mortgage, what do i tell her -- you have to die in an alley or shelter with no dignity after working all your life to raise a family? it's a tough economy out there, and regardless of what the future holds for upi, some of us need whatever income we can maintain while we search for work. some of us even believe a last expression of hope and loyalty is an obligation of the heart for an institution that has kept food on our table and a roof over our heads, however tough the going. a no vote leaves many good people standing out in the cold, including some who are out of the country with no way home. to disregard such people would be an act of selfishness, in some cases motivated by spite. a very good point has been made repeatedly on this wire of late: anyone who doesn't want to stick around doesn't have to. coffee-ajs upi 11-09-90 05:22 pes
231m all well, the temptation to butt in is just too damn strong, even for this old non-voters. when you decide, you must think of your own personal circumstances in realistic terms and none other's. but it must be a unipresser's decision -- that is based on reality, truth and fact, not emotionalism. to sacrifice part of our income to save your job is nnot an endorsement of management. to sacrifice all of your income to say f--- you to management is not professional. brightbill-ne upi 11-09-90 05:33 pes
232m my turn into the fray. a no vote is not a way of 'sticking it' to management. neither is it a vote for homeless families and starving babies. the fact is the company's financial situation is so severe that even a 'yes' vote guarantees nothing. which is why i intend to vote 'no.' i fully realize this makes unemployment likely. i am not taking this lightly. i don't remember anyone who voted against the 1984 pay cut. in exchange for the pay cut, we got a stake in the company, and we were privy to financial information that made us believe upi could turn around. now, we have a gun to our heads. a 35 percent pay cut or the company shuts down. the union went to the negotiation session last week prepared to discuss options to ensure the future of both our company and our jobs. as i understand it, the company wasn't prepared to discuss anything or present credible financial data. in fact, the company wanted the pay cut to be retroactive. (and despite its claim that the pay cut was across the board for all non- union personnel, we know that some people have been exempted from it. is that good faith?) i was in one meeting weeks ago where the union sought to discuss the crisis and solutions with upi management. management was unwilling. yes, a 'no' vote may mean unemployment. it means i'll have trouble making my mortgage payments. it means a dramatic change in my lifestyle. but i see that as likely either way. at least this way, if the company is sold, the new owner knows what our work truly is worth. rgds, and best to everyone. levy-waradio upi 11-09-90 06:06 pes
233m all a question has been raised about whether all upi management employees have undergone a 35 percent pay cut. all non-guild covered employees, including upi senior managers, have received such a pay reduction effective nov. 4, and we will be furnishing the guild old and new payroll records to prove it, and to show that no, repeat no salaries were inflated just prior to the salary reduction. to further reduce upi's payroll and improve the cash flow situation. personnel, finance and accounting staffers have been transferred to other companies and now are handling their operations as well as upi's. in addition, the finance and accounting staff has been reduced by 40 percent and the previous finance and adminstration staffs of the other companies have been eliminated. rossister-wa upi 11-09-90 06:20 pes
234m all eye am not among the voters, but eye wud like to say something. unipressers' self-respect, dignity and worth do not depend on how much they are paid or wot outsiders think of upi's management. those assets are inside each of us, union and non-union. they can be diminished only by each individual. there are reasons to vote no but greater ones to vote yes -- primarily because people who are family do not take the bread out of the mouths of those they care about. if u want to leave, fine. there are indications u can do so et still collect unemployment. but don't hurt those who feel it iz best to stay. eye've thot at times tt the best thing to do wud be to pull the plug and pull the sheet over the face of this tired old girl. but upon reflection, eye cudn't do it even if eye had a vote. in years past, eye had been a member of the guild. eye grew up in a union family. eye voted to turn down at least one upi contract offer et to strike. this is different. a strike u can end and return to yer posts to fite another day. this is about survival. eye don't know tt eye'll be around fer the final 30s on upi but eye don't think it's rite to take jobs away from those tt need them, even if they don't pay wot we'd like them to. eye also consider tt the longer we keep this thing going, the longer those who already have been laid off collect their severance -- at least those who get those benefits. et perhaps, jes perhaps, a new owner will step in and give sum of them their jobs back. eye admit eye'm job hunting. don't worry, eye got my 40 hours in by mid-day wednesday so eye'm not doing it on company time. best rgds to all of u. it's been a pleasure being able to say eye'm a unipresser for 12 years. debevec-ms upi 11-09-90 06:40 pes
all here's my 65 cents worth, although i suspect everybody has pretty much decided how to vote: my first reaction to the pay cut request was to "shoot the horse" and be done with it. but after reflecting for a few days, i've decided to vote "yes." chances are we'll all be pounding pavement sooner or later, but a no vote throws us out immediately. i've heard some pretty sad tales of financial stress among our ranks during the past few days. i would prefer to give these money-short folks some time to find new employment rather than casting a vindictive "no" vote and putting the horse to rest immediately. i'd also like to see who, if anybody, really wants to buy upi. there has to be a upi for that to happen. in case anbody thinks i'm still management... i'm not. i've just completed 25 years with this company, most of it under guild jurisdiction. i spent the past couple years in management but returned to union coverage a month ago to get back under the pension plan. one of my first acts was to send in a card renewing my union membership. vote how you like, but vote with your mind and not a vindictive heart. -- lebo ia upi 11-09-90 06:42 pes
237m all while everyone is contributing her or his wisdom on whether to vote yes or no on the 35 percent pay cut, let us ponder this situation from a different perspective. before i proceed, please understand i don't have a vote since i resigned from the guild. but that has not in any way diluted my respect and love for all of you, i mean all of you. that is not even the point here. you will and must vote the way your heart and head tell you to and nobody should interfere with that. my two-bit here is not in any way meant to contradict that. please trust me. let us now go back to pondering. despite all the warnings of doom and gloom, i simply don't accept the notion that upi is not saleable. upi will be sold. sure, it is not saleable in the traditional sense of assets and liabilities. upi has never had any marketable assets in that sense. we don't even have a product for that matter. we are an information generator and that is all. what we have is a franchise and a fantastic goodwill name. add to that the amazing communications capability to reach any corner of the world instantaneously. and within that system is a built-in capability to transmit any kind of information (mark my word, i didn't use news but information). right there is saleability. upi, therefore, will be sold for its communication capability, franchise value and above all its fabulous goodwill name. think of the possibilities for any buyer who is looking for a global communication system into which any (i mean any) kind of information can be processed and even more important, networked. hot damn it, networked and also system integrated, without any huge cost. do you know, how many millions and millions of dollars are being spent just two achieve those two stupid, cliches, yes, i am convinced, there is not just one buyer, but perhaps a dozen or more. right now, with a computer system already in place, upi as a communication medium is probably the most beautifully and effectively networked and system-integrated dedicated technology that is a custom-made for any kind of business. yes, upi is saleable. work into this attraction, the most dedicated, highest-qualified amazingly- fast team of writers and editors, who can transmit information accurately and faster than anything known to man. which brings up another point. we don't have enough clients in these united states of america. who gives a damn. it is not our fault that the blasted u.s. media industry on which we had put all our faith and hope betrayed us while still hypocritically mouthing the need for two-wire services etc. we should have written them off off long ago. at LEAST NOW LET US ACCEPT, the united states is a virtually dead market for upi. FROM THAT perspective, you can see why we have been virtually reduced to 15 states. i don't doubt pvb or the rest of the mgmt. that much of our revenue has come from these major news centers. this is not meant to denigrate the other states. we must accept that new york, washington, chicago, los angeles and cities of such stature are the main news-making centers and that is what the entire world likes to read. just look at our a-wire and see how many stories do you see on it with datelines beyond these centers. it is horrible and most unfortunate that brilliant unipressers stuck in centers not included in the list of 15 states got axed. that is a chapter that will be written in tears of blood. anyhow, there is still a huge world out there from where we can still bring in handsome revenues. our foreign correspondents, who are the best in the world, have a more level playing field in terms of manpower. they can stay competitive because they are not as outmanned as we are here. if i am right in this thinking, then the potential buyer is also thinking along these lines. in other words, upi will be turned into an international information and news agency with usa functioning as another foreign bureau. no more will we be writing for the kansas city milkman. that blighter will have to go back to school or college to understand our reports. i hope all of you have been paying careful attention to the two words that pvb has been going out of the way to emphasize throughout his tour -- "secondary and tertiary" use of upi reports. to me those two phrases are the key to the future of upi. in my estimation, upi has made considerable headway into the non-media market. all it needs to a new approach than what we have attempted. no one can deny our penetration into the pan am shuttle service was one of the biggest non-media coups. there are umpteen number of such possibilities. the potential buyer, in my opinion, is also thinking along these possibilities. yes, upi is saleable. the u.s. media industry may have written us off. but that is not necessarily true with foreign investors or foreign buyers. they will still see a fantastic potential in upi both as a news medium and an information medium. yes, upi is eminently saleable. the question you want to ask yourself is whether you want to continue to work in such a set up. i cannot answer that. what i can ANSWER IS THAT UPI CAN AND WILL BE SAVED. and if managed right in the future, we will have stolen a march on ap and the rest of the u.s. media and come back with a vengeance into this very market that tried to screw us. best of luck my dear brothers and sisteres. hari-da upi 11-09-90 06:48 pes
238m all for the record: those who are voting against the pay cut are not the ones putting people out of work. layoffs that already have occurred and any future job losses result from management decisions and management decisions only. levy-waradio upi 11-09-90 06:57 pes
239m all- just returned from covering jessican hahn of p-t-l fame who sez quote, 'yeah, what's the latest on upi, are u guys going to make it?' i told her 'i hope so,' and continued to carry on a conversation while taking pix at the autograph session. ms. hahn sends her regards to ex-charlotte, raleigh, atlanta news staffer june preston and went on and on about how june and upi helped bring down the p-t-l empire and that evil jim bakker. apparently she was pleased with our coverage and also seems to want us to survive. she closed by telling me to ask everyone to keep up the hard work and the struggle. just thought u might want to know. tulis ajp upi 11-09-90 07:07 pes