Sports Illustrated announces layoffs
Time Inc. notified the Guild Friday that up to 16 employees will be laid off at Sports Illustrated, 15 of those in Guild jurisdiction. This follows a two-week volunteer period that was open to the entire SI Group, and these layoffs are in addition to any volunteers received during that period. The contractually mandated two-week period for volunteers for severance packages from people in the affected departments began Friday and runs through July 6. If there are not enough volunteers, there will be involuntary layoffs.
The claim is that the layoff is a part of a “reorganization” effort; however, the fact that there is no reorganization plan in place and the fact that HR has stated that the exact number of layoffs would depend on salaries of the people who volunteer, indicates that the layoffs are, in reality, cost-cutting.
These are the numbers and job categories the Guild was given:
Senior Editors: up to 1
Associate Editors: up to 3
Writers: up to 3
Photographers: up to 5
Photo Editors: up to 1
Writer-Reporters: up to 3
The "up to" means, according to management, that the final total will depend on the salaries of the volunteers they get. While Time Inc. may well continue to accept volunteers from other categories and from managers and people otherwise outside jurisdiction, there is no contractual requirement that it do so.
Your rights in a staff cut, 2012
Thus far Time Inc. says there are no plans for layoffs at other magazines within Guild jurisdiction. However, we thought it would be a good time to remind not only those at SI but also all of you of your rights during a reduction in force.
The provisions and precedents summarized below have been won over decades of hard bargaining with Time Inc. management. Some of these practices may sometimes be followed with employees outside jurisdiction (in the SI Group, only non-managers at Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated Presents, along with a number of dotcom employees who work or have worked both at print and the dotcom, are in jurisdiction), but the protections are guaranteed only to employees covered by the Guild contract.
Notice to the Guild and Volunteer Periods
1. Notice to the Guild: The company must notify the Guild at least two weeks before the effective date of involuntary layoffs—one month if the layoff is due to automation or new technology—and provide the Guild with the number of employees affected in each category. (You must be notified of job cuts in your area even if you are on vacation; if you can’t be found quickly, your time period to consider volunteering may be extended.)
2. Volunteer periods: Once the Guild is notified of the number of employees affected in each category, management must give at least 2 weeks for employees in the affected departments to volunteer before anyone can be terminated. Following that period, another 2-week period for employees in Groups 1 through 9 allows for "cross-divisional" volunteers from other magazines or divisions to come forward.
3. Volunteers for buyouts: You can volunteer for the severance package as a buyout, during a period before any terminations in a staff cut. If you volunteer for a buyout, you get the same package and retraining allowance you would if terminated, and you can usually collect unemployment comp as well.
4. Volunteer means volunteer: You can NOT be coerced to "volunteer" against your wishes. Your manager cannot take the initiative and approach you individually suggesting that you should take a buyout package; that would constitute private bargaining. The Guild has a collective bargaining agreement protecting you from such intimidating offers. And it would probably amount to illegal age discrimination if a manager ever suggested that it’s time you retire.
5. How to volunteer: If you are interested in taking a buyout package, consider the matter carefully, and talk to the Guild about it first. Then you must notify management that you want a package. Work with the Guild so you won’t have to fly solo.
6. Too many volunteers: Management must accept 90% of the volunteers from the area being cut back, and ”make every reasonable effort" to take all volunteers up to the number of jobs being cut. In the past, when there were more volunteers than jobs being cut, management has accepted all of them and hired new employees, but it is not required to do so.
7. Cross-divisional volunteers: If you are outside the affected area, you may volunteer for a buyout if there are not enough volunteers within the division, and if your departure will provide a job for someone whose job is being eliminated.
a. Job-for-package swap: If you volunteer, one of the affected employees must be willing and able to take your job; and your manager should be willing to accept that employee as your substitute. But a manager cannot arbitrarily veto the swap, because management is obliged by the contract to "make every reasonable effort" to take all volunteers up to the number of jobs being cut.
b. Automatically eligible: If your job is in Groups 1 to 9, you are automatically eligible to be a cross-divisional volunteer for one of the jobs in the same group as yours that is being eliminated. The jobs in Groups 1 to 9 include photo lab technicians, imaging coordinators, administrative assistants, copy editors, page coders, picture researchers, and others. (Note that the contract job titles are not always the same as the masthead titles.)
c. Case-by-case consideration: Management sometimes extends this "cross-divisional volunteer" provision on a case-by-case basis to the jobs above Group 9, such as imaging specialist, reporter, negative reader, research librarian, staff correspondent, and designer. But management can refuse requests from volunteers not guaranteed eligibility by the contract.
8. Volunteers don’t get:
a. Rehire rights: If you are terminated, if one of the same jobs or a comparable job within the division opens up within 52 weeks, you have the right to be rehired for that opening, and you have the right to get "first consideration" for other jobs in the company. Volunteers don’t.
b. Job lists: If you are terminated, you receive the job listings by mail to keep up with available openings, so you can get the first consideration. Volunteers don’t.
c. Offsite training: If you are terminated due to automation, you can get up to 4 weeks of outside training paid for by the company if the training will qualify you for an available Time Inc. job. Volunteers don’t.
9. If there aren’t enough volunteers, “any involuntary reductions shall be made in inverse order of length of service, except where an Employee is involved in a special function or except where the abilities, skills, or performance of the junior Employee are superior to the more senior Employee as determined at the discretion of the Publisher, such discretion not to be abused.” The Guild will challenge any termination that is out of seniority if there is a question of abuse of discretion.
How Much Severance Do You Get?
10. Severance-pay package: If you volunteer or if you are terminated involuntarily, you get 2 weeks of severance pay for every year of service (prorated for partial years' service) up to a maximum of 52 weeks (i.e., 26 years of service), with a bonus of 8 weeks of pay for those who have 20 years of service and a bonus of 10 weeks for those with 25 years of service by that date.
11. Extra 13 weeks: If you have 20 years of service and are over 50 (that is, within 5 years of qualifying for early retirement), you get an extra 13 weeks in your package, which can be taken on payroll.
12. Part-timers: Your package is calculated from your average workweek over the last 26 weeks (similar to the calculation of part-timers’ vacation pay), not from your guarantee.
13. Night-work bonus: Your night-work bonus is included in figuring your severance.
14. Retraining allowance: You can get reimbursed for training, classes, or job placement expenses, up to an additional 15% of your severance pay, whether you take your package on payroll or as a lump sum. You have up to 2 years to use the allowance.
15. Vacation: Your unused accrued vacation time will be paid out in a lump sum when you go off payroll.
Length of Service
16. Continuous Service: Your start date (and so your length of service) for severance purposes is based on “continuous service.” Continuous service “shall not be deemed to have been broken by any break in service of less than 12 months.” If you worked as a temporary employee (an i-temp) immediately before you were hired, you will be credited for up to six months’ service immediately preceding the date of hire as a project or regular employee, unless your continuous temp work started before 1999. In that case, you will be credited for all your temp work (with no more than a short break0 leading up to your date of hire as a project or regular employee.
How Can You Take Your Severance?
17. Package on payroll: You can take your notice and severance on payroll for up to 26 weeks (if your package is that big) with full medical benefits, or for 39 weeks if you get the extra 13 weeks. Any unused portion of your package is paid as a lump sum (along with any unused vacation).
18. Package as a lump sum: You can take your entire package in a lump sum (your benefits will end on the last day of the month you stop working).
19. Benefits till 60 in lieu of 13 extra weeks: If you are between 52 (or within 3 years of any of the company’s retirement plans) and 60 and have 20 years of continous service, instead of the 13 extra weeks provided to employees who are 50 or older and have 20 or more years of service, you can elect to receive “a monthly payment to age 60 equal to (i) 175% of the average of the 60 highest consecutive months of compensation divided by the number of months between the date of such dismissal or elimination and age 60; (ii) the severance pay pursuant to this Article by the number of months between the date of such dismissal or the elimination and age 60.
20. Medical coverage ends: Your medical benefits extend to the end of the month you go off payroll, whether you take your package on payroll or as a lump sum. If you are 53 or older, see also the provisions under Retirement, below.
21. Extending your coverage: If you take your package on payroll, you continue to be covered by the medical plans. When the package runs out (or if you take your package in a lump sum), you can buy coverage under the Time Inc. plan until you get medical insurance from a new employer. The company is required by law (called COBRA in government jargon) to sell you the same coverage at the same group rate price (plus a 2% administrative charge) for 18 months. Currently monthly COBRA payments for those in the PPO plan are approximately $500 for an individual, $1,000 for individual plus one and $1,500 for family (3 or more). Payments for those in the Health Savings Plan are slightly less.
Subsequent Work at Time Inc.
For Employees who are terminated (not those who volunteer):
22. Rehire rights: If you are terminated (although not if you volunteer) then if the same job or a comparable job within the division opens up within 52 weeks, you have the right to be rehired for that opening.
23. Other jobs: Management will "make every reasonable effort to relocate in comparable work" the employees involved in a job cut. "Such employees shall be given first consideration for jobs with [the company.]"
24. Training for a new job: If you are "deemed to have the ability for an available job at Time Inc. but lack the training, [the company] will train [you] to meet the requirements of the job."
25. Mutual trial: If you are hired for another Time Inc. job after a layoff, you get a 3-month mutual trial. If you decide the job is unsuitable, you can leave at any time and resume getting your package on payroll. (This provision protects your package while you explore the job opportunity.) Management must decide at the end of the 3 months whether to make you permanent or not, but rarely does anyone fail such a trial. After 3 months, when you become permanent in the new job, you lose any unused portion of your package; however you would be eligible for a new package if there is ever a staff cut in your new department.
26. Job listings: If you are terminated, you are entitled to access to the internal job listings for one year after your last date on payroll.
27. Offsite training: In an automation cutback, “if [you are] deemed to have prerequisite skills and ability” you can get up to 4 weeks of offsite training if the it will enable you to take an available job. For example, you could take courses in color theory and page geometry in order to work as an imaging specialist.
Whether you volunteer or are terminated:
28. Your new job and your severance: If you take your package as a lump sum and are later rehired, if the number of weeks in the package exceeds the number of weeks in the gap in employment, management may expect those additional weeks to be repaid. When you take your package on payroll, this is not an issue, since you are simply transferred from the severance payroll back to the active employee payroll. In effect, you get the same treatment either way.
29. Bridging to a new job: If you take your package on payroll and get another position in Time Inc. while you are still on payroll, you are bridged in length of service as if you had never left.
Subsequent Work Elsewhere
30. If you get a new permanent outside job: If you start taking your package on payroll, you will automatically remain on payroll for the remainder of your package even if you get a permanent position. However, you should notify HR that you have a new permanent job. (This does not apply to temporary, freelance, or provisional employment.) If it is important to you to receive a lump sum instead, notify the Guild and HR; an accommodation can probably be made.
31. Tuition reimbursement: If you started courses before the job elimination took effect, you get the regular tuition reimbursement if you are still on payroll, even on severance, when the courses are completed.
32. Vacation: Vacation does not accrue while you are on severance.
33. Unemployment comp: You may be able to take your severance on payroll and collect unemployment compensation at the same time in some states. In others, severance is considered wages, so you will have to wait until the end of your package on payroll to collect. In New York State, some local unemployment offices tell you you must wait until your package is paid out, while others seem to be comfortable with paying unemployment simultaneously with the severance package. So tell them you are on severance, and see what their answer is.
34. Your office and voice mail: In some cases, you can continue to use an office; more often you can retain use of voice mail if you have your own individual extension. If you need this help during job-hunting, contact the Guild. We ’ll try to work it out with management on a case-by-case basis.
35. Sabbatical: If you get a package, as a volunteer or from a termination, and you were eligible for a sabbatical leave (for the most part, employees are eligible for sabbatical only if they had 15 years of continuous service as of October 7, 2007), you are not contractually entitled to take the leave unless —
a. you had asked for it before the staff cut announcement (such requests may be honored or negotiated),
b. you take retirement or early retirement.
However, even if you are not retiring, let the Guild know if you have earned your sabbatical but are not being given it as part of your package, and we’ll see if we can be of help.
36. Pension Vesting: If you were a participant in the Pension Plan before July 1, 2010 and had at least 5 years of continous service at the effective date of dismissal, you will be vested in the Pension Plan.
37. Your 401K: Your payroll deductions stop when you go on severance. When you go off payroll, you can leave your funds in your 401(k) and handle them as you did before, or you can roll them over directly into a qualified IRA (if you don’t roll it over directly, there may be tax consequences). If you are younger than 591/2 and choose to withdraw funds from your 401K, you’ll pay a heavy penalty right off the top, and then income taxes, except for certain hardship conditions. Some withdrawals may be exempt from the penalty if made in conjunction with retirement; consult HR for details.
38. Retirement: You can take a package and then retire, or take early retirement, if you qualify. If you want to know your retirement income estimates and your options for taking your pension, please call the benefits department.
39. Early retirement:
a) If you are 55 and have 10 years of service, you are eligible for early retirement. The benefits you receive and whether and how you take your pension will depend on several factors, so please consult with HR concerning your options. Every case is different.
Please also note, that if at the start of 2000 you had accumulated pension benefit service credit of 10 years or more and if this service, added to your age, totaled 65 or more, you are “grandfathered” into an earlier, better retiree benefits plan. Please contact the Guild for more information.
There are also “grandfather” clauses concerning the 2010 change in the pension plan which can be found at Time Traveler in the Benefits section, under Retirement.
b) If you are 62, with 10 years of service, you are fully eligible to receive your pension as it would have been at 65. This early retirement allows you to participate in the under 65 retiree medical plan until age 65, when Medicare becomes primary and you are switched to the Time Inc. Supplemental Plan for retirees 65 and older in effect at that time. Your share of the insurance premium is calculated using a subsidy formula based on service instead of a percentage of base salary and will typically be higher as a retiree than it was as an active employee.
40. Help in bridging: If you are not quite eligible for early retirement, but are close, talk to the Guild. We sometimes can help to work out arrangements with management to bridge longtime staffers to qualify for retirement.
41. Retirees’ medical: To get the company-paid retiree medical coverage, you must retire directly from payroll—that is, apply for retirement so there is no time gap between payroll and retirement. The longer your length of service, the greater the company’s share of the premiums, and the less you have to pay.
42. Future medical coverage: Do not go off payroll before dealing with your retirement entitlements.
43. Pension payouts: Your pension can be taken as a lump sum, as a payout over a certain guaranteed period, or for the rest of your life, and there are survivor’s benefit provisions. The window for your choice opens when you put in for the pension. Please consult with the benefits department concerning your options.
If you have any questions concerning the job elimination process, Guild coverage, or your job category, please feel free to contact the following Guild reps, by phone or e-mail:
Jill Jaroff, 212-522-5650 Edith Fried, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernice Rohret, 212-522-4561 Bob Townsend, Guild Local Rep., 212-730-1532
John Shostrom, 212-522-3965