1991 AP Story Warning UPI May Go Under

Here's a Sept. 21, 1991, story from The Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) - United Press International will likely go under without considerable concessions from the Wire Service Guild, the news agency's financial chief told a bankruptcy court.

UPI's chief executive officer, David L. Moier, testified Friday at a hearing on the company's request for permission to stop paying certain benefits due employees under their current contract.

UPI is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Francis Conrad to let it cancel contract provisions such as severance pay and two weeks' notice to workers being laid off.

The company also wants permission to cancel provisions that give employees the right to refuse transfers, that limit the use of stringers and that give senior employees the right to bump more junior workers from their jobs.

The Guild's attorney, Bruce Simon, told Conrad that UPI's request constituted a "gutting of the contract." Simon said changes to the contract should be done at the bargaining table, not in court.

Moier testified that the company would have a $1.9 million cash deficit by Nov. 29, if the contract concessions were not approved. Moier said he did not believe the company could continue operations without the requested concessions.

The concessions, together with more layoffs, a continued 20 percent pay cut -- to about $568 a week for top-level employees -- and other cutbacks in expenses such as rent, travel and phone costs, would allow the company to break even, Moier said.

Until this week, UPI employed about 585 people in the United States and abroad, down from a reported 1,600 before its purchase by Infotechnology in 1988. Infotechnology also has sought bankruptcy protection.

The company announced this week that about 150 employees, including approximately 15 managers, will be fired within the next month or two. It plans to replace many of them with independent contractors or stringers.

UPI told its employees Wednesday that all vacation time they earned before UPI sought bankruptcy protection Aug. 28 was being put on indefinite hold.