Internal report to UPI employees circa 1992 from former UPI executive Steve Geimann:
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O-l-d Company Update
Action is still proceeding in the windup of o-l-d UPI in New York bankruptcy court.
Another hearing was held this week to formally extend the deadline for taking action on bureau leases and other types of non-labor contracts signed by the o-l-d company.
Legal papers that will lead to paying employees for vacation time earned, but not taken, from Jan. 1 through June 27, 1992, have been prepared, but the papers have not been submitted to the court for processing.
Lawyers for the o-l-d company say they asked the Wire Service Guild to supply some information regarding the extension of severance payments to former staffers dismissed before the company was sold.
The Guild, as of 1/8, had not responded to the o-l-d company lawyer's request for the information. Severance was stopped with the new ownership.
The next bankruptcy hearing is scheduled for Feb. 2. Lawyers for the o-l-d company anticipate legal papers listing the vacation pay for employee a-n-d for the severance pay to ex-staffers will be submitted for the judge's approval at that time.
Here's the tenative plan should the judge approve the payments.
Employees who are owed vacation time from Jan. 1, through June 27, 1992, will be sent a check with a letter that advises them that cashing the check waives any right to seek further payments. Those who agree with the amount can cash the check. Those who disagree will return the check and file an administrative claim for the unused vacation time.
A similar plan will be adopted for payment of severance.
It should be made clear: The new owners of UPI are n-o-t involved in any of these discussions. Only representatives and lawyers for the o-l-d UPI are involved. Money to make the vacation payments will come from the estate of the o-l-d UPI, not from the new and current owners.
The checks that will be mailed will be brown rather than green as used for checks issued by the n-e-w UPI.
Payments for medical expenses has continued under the new UPI owners, with some of the payments appearing to come quite late.
Since both o-l-d and n-e-w UPI have been using the same process for handling medical claims, let me explain how the process works and why it sometimes appears to be extraordinarily slow.
UPI uses a third-party company to process, review, accept - or reject - all the claims for medical care provided to employees. Once a medical claim is incurred, either the doctor, the hospital or the employee submits the bill to Comprehensive Benefits Service Co. for "processing."
They cannot begin processing the bill until they receive it, so if there's a delay getting the bill from the doctor or hospital or you to Comprehensive, it will delay when the payment is made.
During their review, Comprehensive may have questions about certain expenditures and will send back the bill for explanation. This action also adds to the delay.
Once Comprehensive satisfies itself that the bill is acceptable for payment, it notifies UPI that those "processed" bills are ready for payment. It is not unusual for this process to take several weeks.
After the bill arrives at World Headquarters, UPI incorporates the bill into its weekly and monthly operating budgets, a process that can further delay the payment. At some point after the data arrives, UPI cuts a check and sends it to Comprehensive. The oldest "processed date" are paid ahead of the more recent "processed dates."
UPI sends the check to Comprehensive, which then settles the accounts on the medical bills it has processed.
All this takes time. At times, payments to Comprehensive have been up to three months behind. The aim is to get the bills paid within eight to 10 weeks after "processed" by Comprehensive.
Bruce Cook in Pittsburgh, who maintains the database for access to the UPI editorial computer, is working with Managing Editor Bob Kieckhefer in updating many of the holdfiles throughout the UPI system.
Regional editors and techs have already begun, and are updating the files a little at a time.
Once we get the regional holdfiles in shape we'll concentrate on the national and international files. But national and international editors and staffers don't have to wait. It will help if everyone participates, updating and unholding wherever and whenever you can.
This is a tedious task but one that's long overdue. Holdfiles throughout the system are in real bad shape. The result of this cleanup will be a computer system that is faster and more efficient.
The goals of this project:
1. Unhold items no longer needed. Bring the files up to date. Make them more manageable and useful. 2. Get rid of the thousands of 'sysxfer' and 'syssync' labels throughout the holdfile system. These designations went on items that were in holdfiles when we switched from the Dallas computer in 1990. Many of these 'sys' items are still needed. In such cases, just override them under your own login. If you don't need them, unhold them. We want all the 'sys' labels out of the directories; it will mean that someone has at least looked at all this stuff in 1993.
While updating the files, you may wish to change slugs to make things easier to find. Some bureaus are designating potential 'obit' material in the slugline. Others are consolidating the many lists of contacts under common slugs such as 'phones.'
You may wish to eliminate some holdfiles entirely, transferring needed items into files you use regularly.
Cook (who reads NCM and answers 412-553-5318) is coordinating this project in cooperation with Kieckhefer. Let Cook know if you need help, if you'd like to eliminate entire files or even create new ones for special circumstances.
Thurston Bray, wurgh Head, Shetland Islands, Mick reported:
"The first thing to hit you is the smell. Then the taste.
"Three days ago, the windswept slopes above Garth's hern tip of the Shetland Islands would have been the perfect after-dinner stroll.
"Now you almost need a gas mask. A mile-wide exclusion zone, initially imp explosions aboard the stricken Braer oil tanker, is enforced to protect the unwarned from the nauseous fumes of the leaking wreck."
Thurston talked to Jimmy . . . a fisherman who has lived in the area all his life.
"'I'm not moving for anyone. The oil fumes should go away soon and hopefully the journalists too. know how long it will take them to get rid of that thing,' he said, pointing seaward."
Boston sports stringer John Hinds Jr. got ace at Boston College that Tom Coughlin, rumored to be the next head football coach of the New York Giants, would be staying at BC.
While UPI was desking Hindas reporting that Couglin had signed a five-year contract with the Giants.
UPI, trusting Hinds' source inside the BC family, went with Coughlin staying on as les. It turned out to be the right call as ESPN - and the Giants - came up short of the goal line.
Kjos Follows Polynice on Krome Trek
Olden Polynicer for the Detroit Pistons, staged what amounted to a one-man sit-in in the rain for three hours at Krome Detention Center where more than 150 Haitian refugees strike seeking freedom.
UPI-Miami's Les Kjos was the only wire service reporter there and walked with the Haitian-born Polynice down the road from the fithe security hut.
About halfway down the 400-yard stretch, Polynice was stopped by two armed immigration officers in a van. Polynice shouted that he wanted t through a loudspeaker was told to turn back because he was trespassing on federal property and blocking traffic.
The INS van continued to block the traffic. Polynice and the reporters remained in place for an hour while an attorney for three oikers was allowed in to talk to her clients.
When she returned Polynice left.
Polynice took the purpose of his visit seriously, but not himself. At one point he had a lucrative shoe contract with Reebok, looked down at his Nike sneakers and said: "I'm wearing the wrong shoes. Sorry Mr. Reebok."
The of the International Desk have arrived in Washington and the new team to handle copy for non-United States customers is in place.
Sarah Jackson, formerly anslator at Agence France Press in Washington, started work Jan. 4, learning how the UPI system operates. Sarah has also worked for AFP in its Hong Kong offical traveler Paul Basken, who joined UPI in BH moved to Washington to work the I-slot before heading to London for the same chores, is back in WA on the I-deworked in Sarajevo, Bosnia, during heavy fighting in summer 1992.
Former Mexico City staffer Harvey Rice, a reporter in the Latin America operation before states, and Ken Bazinet, a New Englander and former Boston staffer, join Knut Wiborg-Jensen, a 40-year veteran of United Press and UPI, and Jorge Baalehe I-desk from Washington while most the staff was in London, remains with the desk.