If Aaron Kushner Has His Way, Monday Will Leave OC Register W/Less Reporters Than When He Bought It: UPDATE



Freedom Communications Furlough Program

Q: What is a furlough?

A: A furlough is time that an associate does not work and does not get paid for that time away from work. It is sometimes called unpaid leave or time off without pay.

Q: Why has Freedom decided to do a furlough?

A: We are continually evaluating how we can maximize growth based on what is working well, and making necessary adjustments when needed. A furlough was one of many options considered that provides the immediate savings benefit we were seeking, while ensuring there is minimal disruption on delivering our valuable products and services to our customers and advertisers.

Q: Is everyone going to participate in the furlough?

A: All levels of associates across all organizations will participate in a ten (10) day furlough program during the months of June and July, 2014. We are choosing to exempt selected associates in selected roles to ensure that the delivery of our products is not interrupted.

Q: Does this mean the Company is in really bad shape?

A: No. We've made a bold investment in the future of newspapers, quality newspapering, growing value for our subscribers and advertisers and aggressively expanding the geography and depth of value we provide to our community. We committed that we were going to put everything we had into proving that newspapers have a vibrant and growing future. Overall revenue from our three core areas of business - subscriptions, advertising and commercial printing - have grown within the past two years. Despite this progress, our company's expenses have outpaced the growth of its revenues. As we learn from our investments and align our cost structure in the short term with what we now know we can achieve in revenue growth, it better positions us for permanent and long-term profitability.

Q: I am an exempt associate, how will the furlough process work for me?

A: As an exempt associate, you are considered to be paid on a weekly basis under the rules set by the Department of Labor. Therefore, you will be required to take your ten-day furlough in two full payroll weeks within the designated calendar period. During a furlough week you will not be allowed to do any work, which means no work-related calls, emails or site visits. To record your time, you will enter 40 hours of VTO (unpaid time) in the ADP e-time application much like you would enter vacation or sick time.

NOTE: Days must be taken as consecutive days based on your regular work schedule. If your normal work days are Monday-Friday then your furlough days will be a Monday- Friday. If your normal workdays are Wednesday through Sunday, then your furlough will occur on Wednesday through Sunday. Each week of the two weeks does not need to be consecutive. For the exact scheduling of your weeks, please speak with your manager.

Q: I am non-exempt, how will the furlough process work for me?

A: As a non-exempt associate you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. You are therefore paid by the hour. You will be allowed to take your ten-day furlough in one day increments. During that time, you will not be allowed to do any work, which means no work-related calls, emails or site visits. To record your time, you will enter 8 hours of VTO (unpaid time) in the ADP e-time application for each day of furlough. Your furlough days do not need to be consecutive. For the exact scheduling of your days, please speak with your manager.

Q: Why are the rules different for non-exempt and exempt associates?

A: Non-exempt (hourly) associates and exempt associates are subject to different rules set by the US Department of Labor. The pay rules dictate how we are able to pay or not pay during the furlough period. If you are not sure what category you fall into, please consult your HR support manager.

Q: Why can't I do any work while I am out?

A: There are very specific state and federal wage and hour rules that must be followed. These laws require that associates, whether non-exempt (hourly) or exempt, must not work while on an unpaid leave. That includes reading or responding to work-related e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues or customers and being on-site or at a customer's location at any time during your furlough days.

Q: This is a financial hardship for me, can there be an exception for me?

A: There will be no individual hardship exceptions. We encourage all associates to make use of resources such as the Employee Assistance Program to receive counseling or financial advice.

Q: May non-exempt associates take furlough time in part day or hourly

A: Furloughs must be taken in full day units.

Q: If an exempt associate works while on furlough because of an emergency can they take a new furlough week later?

A: Every exempt associate will need to complete the furlough in full payroll weeks. It is important to schedule your furlough carefully with your manager so that back-up is available. If that is not possible, the furlough will need to be undone and re-scheduled (please contact the payroll department for instructions for corrections in the ADP e-time application).

Q: Does the furlough include part-time associates?

A: Yes, the furlough should be based on your scheduled or variable work time and should be two week's worth of normally scheduled time. For example, if you work 20 hours per week, then your furlough will be for 40 hours.

Q: How will my furlough be scheduled?

A: Your manager will work with you to schedule your furlough to provide the least impact to our normal business operations.

Q: Will this compromise our ability to do our jobs, produce our products and satisfy our customers?

A: We continue to evaluate all of our actions for impact on our customers. We feel that, although this will impact many areas due to the scheduling challenges, this does provide more flexibility for our business as we align our cost structure with our revenue growth.

Q: Who will cover my job while I am out?

A: You and your supervisor will discuss how your responsibilities will be handled while you are out. If you have a company e-mail address or phone mailbox, you should leave a message directing people to the associate designated to reply in your absence.

Q: What happens to my benefits while I am on furlough?

A: Your benefits including medical, dental, vision, life and disability coverage will continue during your furlough. The deductions for your coverage will be taken from your paycheck as they are in a non-furlough period. You will continue to earn vacation credit during your furlough. If you participate in the Freedom Communications 401(k) Retirement Plan, no participant contributions will be made during your unpaid furlough.

Q: Can I take vacation instead?

A: No. The savings comes from unpaid time. Vacation is paid time.

Q: Can I take furlough time during the week of June 30th which includes the July 4th holiday? If I do will I receive holiday pay?

A: If you are an exempt associate and you choose to take off the week of June 30th which includes the 4th of July you will not be paid for the holiday. If you are an hourly associate you may choose to use the holiday as one of your furlough days which means you will take that day as unpaid time.

Q: If I have a garnishment, will it be impacted by the furlough?

A: No, garnishments will continue to be taken during the furlough.

Q: Am I eligible for state unemployment benefits while I am out on furlough?

A: Unemployment insurance claims are adjudicated by the State of California, Economic Development Department [EDD]. Inquires about unemployment insurance should be directed to the EDD.

Q: What other resources do I have to assist me while I am out on furlough?

A: Your Employee Assistance program can provide counseling, local community resources and financial counseling. They can be reached at 866.799.2728 or http://www.healthadvocate.com.

UPDATE, JUNE 4, 7:45: And since you're all the way at the bottom of this page, let's start a new one, shall we? After the jump!

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75 comments
Dweezle
Dweezle

A news agency eliminating reporters is like a trucking company dumping drivers. A paper makes money off classifieds & advertising if there is no good news coverage no one will see the ads, so, you die. Cut off your nose to spite your face. 

But I read the Register as often as I shop at Walmart, (I refuse to walk into a slavemart store for any reason)

I get my news from the OC Weekly, Voice of OC, and a few other sources.

NancyMolina
NancyMolina

Why does the Weekly which is like 5 pages thick now and slowly dying continue to celebrate that other reporters are losing their jobs, careers and way to make a living? Are you that bitter? How is this sarcasm constructive at all? You are on a sinking ship as well and everyone knows it but isn't dancing on your grave.

Coyote625
Coyote625

Stop the presses. Kushner proclaims "we are growing." If slashing your content dept nearly 33%, scaling back the Long Beach Register to a once a week newspaper, deep discounting advertising rates, implementing mandatory furloughs and selling off the land the Register occupies are signs of growth then, Katy bar the door!

Hopefully
Hopefully

DaVinciP2P maybe the owners should do a quick prep tool along with the top heavy management that probably hasn't met a customer in years!

Coyote625
Coyote625

@Hopefully management is top heavy with senior managers who are clueless & the company's $1million plus investment in Genuine Sales training is a big joke!

Hopefully
Hopefully

Prediction... they will be in a chapter 11 by end of year.  Hopefully, Cox or Gannett will pick it up and bring it back to where it belongs...a voice for Orange County...not the east coast with people that don't know anything about the business or this community.  Who ever heard of a furlough?  That's just saying we can't make payroll.  Perhaps they should take a furlough...a long one. 

Hopefully
Hopefully

Hopefully, the owners of the OC Register will admit to fault.  The people that work for them are hard working, decent people.  The owners are hard working business people.  Their intent is and always has been to make money.  They aren't interested in employing good talent.  More interested in making them money.  If they want to cut costs, perhaps Aaron Kushner shouldn't be living in the Islands Hotel which the company pays for.  Better yet, lose the VP's - that will save them another million a year.

Leia Smith
Leia Smith

I noticed that the OCR is using voice of OC as a reporters- are they outsourcing their reporting?

beenthere
beenthere

Anybody who has been in a room with Aaron knows that his ego is bigger than his ability to run a business.  His arrogance and need to do things his way without any objectivity have cost a lot of people jobs.  Pride comes before the fall.

StuckInReality
StuckInReality

Informed sources say the head of finance for Freedom quit on Monday. The layoffs started Tuesday. Maybe the hard financial realities clashed with Aaron's financial fantasies?

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

Everyone reading this -- even the accomplished Charles Lam and LP Hastings -- is old enough to know that when someone rolls out the line "the failure would be if we did not try at all," it means one thing -- we failed.  We embarrassingly failed.  And we're too delusional to acknowledge it.


All I want to know is, where's the toll free number for the 'Reader Assistance Program,' i.e., the one for those despondent after enduring the lame 'journalism' purveyed by the Register?  Why is it, for example, that when the Reg covers a car accident in OC, the photo gallery will include a dozen photos of an overturned car, shot from different angles and zoom levels...and nothing more?  And why is it that the LA Times and OC Weekly are smart enough never to do that? 



I think I said this once before, but never did I ever think I'd wish for Gannett to swoop in and take over the local daily.  They might actually improve the product, as incredible as that sounds. 



Steve Ballmer, can you spare another few million?  David Geffen?  Oprah?  Buy the Register...keep Brad Johnson...get rid of Nancy Luna and everyone of that ilk...do a deep, multi-part expose on all the local 'Saddleback Churches'...and put a partially-topless woman on the front page every other day.  There'll be hope for the future of OC if you do. 

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

I've exclusively obtained the original draft of Kushner's memo [deleted parts in bold]:



"If you participate in the Freedom Communications 401(k) Retirement Plan, no participant contributions will be made during your unpaid furlough - you know, sort of like when the company stopped matching contributions after we took over.

"Inquires about unemployment insurance should be directed to the EDD - something many of you will have to do anyway in about 3 weeks, thanks to our clueless mismanagement." 


Naomi M. Anderson
Naomi M. Anderson

It's sad when anyone loses their job, or their employment hours. I've read the OCR for years. Nothing like a newspaper on a Sunday morning. But I, too, get my news from the internet. Newspapers have value, IMHO. It might be more localized information about your area, the weekly ads, coupons, and community resources. Perhaps the OCR needs to reinvent itself into a modern day media outlet?!

JustAnObserver
JustAnObserver

I admire Kushner's vision of providing a source for in depth coverage and commentary on regional and local issues. The investment in hiring real journalists and publishing more than 3 paragraph stories in OCR was a real treat.  What amazes me though is his blatant disregard and naivety of understanding digital and broadcast media channels. As if to say, I've cracked the code on how to make newspapers profitable. Hey Aaron, it's 2014 NOT 1914!

concepcionimmaculada
concepcionimmaculada

They can't completely get rid of actual printed newspapers! 


What will my dog pee on if they do!? She's been trained to use her dog version of  a litter box with newspaper in the bottom for years now - that way she can pee when I'm away at work and I don't have to worry about any accidents in the house! Of course, since she pees on the printed stuff I read the news online, and it's not as though she can pee on that as a substitute!

Robert Robert
Robert Robert

Our Town, We Love Moreno Valley newspaper JulieAnn Stewart-Cleaveland

OobopShabam
OobopShabam

The urgency of the furloughs suggests a concern about not being able to make payroll in the coming weeks.

Mark Warrick
Mark Warrick

theres a really simple solution to this: stop printing and be an online only paper. make sure it works on every modern device and oh yeah, take down the pay wall you fools!

nycinoc
nycinoc

The Great Pay Wall's been crumbling for some time. Kushner's been living in a black & white Pleasantville dream world.  Instead of embracing technology, he shunned it. 

I'm sure there's a publication run by the Amish with a Gutenberg Press who could benefit from his vision. 

joedantoni1412
joedantoni1412

Maybe Kushner needs to chill, check out www.rubmaps.com

I don't know.  I can enjoy his effort. 

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

It has NOTHING to do with schadenfreude! Differentiating is a useful skill. If anything regular employees should be grateful for the red flag so they can start looking elsewhere.

JF Mmonnttess
JF Mmonnttess

Oh wow what a bunch of thieves !!!! Is that even ethical? That ship is collapsing. I feel bad for the regular employees.

Mark Warrick
Mark Warrick

What a wussy move. Just lay them off, shut the doors and be done with it! Putting somebody on furlough limits their ability to get another job and collect unemployment benefits

Ruben Alvarez
Ruben Alvarez

I guess the new and improved business model Kushner instituted are not working to the detriment of many hard working people.

Ryan Steele
Ryan Steele

Is it not time to pull the plug on printed media? There are implications that seem scary, but we are always afraid of change. Nobody misses the public telephone booth.

Eugene W Fields
Eugene W Fields

An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. The slow, but seemingly inevitable desmise of OCR is a blow to journalism, both here in Orange County, but nationwide. In addition to The Weekly, OCR served as a watchdog. Competition is good and healthy. I found that out as a sports reporter after the LA Times pulled out of OC.

Coyote625
Coyote625

Arellano's tenacity and persistence in providing "the community" a glimpse into King Kushner's alleged financial wizardry, brilliantly showcases the function of a good journalist. Surely we can agree on shining the light on King Kushner's proclamation of his business strategies.

Writers generate NO revenue for any daily newspaper . Your written word means nada if the presses don't roll and subscription and ad revenues don't steadily stream in. Many good employees have had their professional careers disrupted by the Stanford & MIT boys.

Taking a cheap shot at the OCWeekly merely marginalizes your post. I have read nothing about massive layoffs, furloughs or buyouts at the OC Weekly.

Arellano's reporting is not personal. He's informing "the community" the publisher of the OC Register is failing at his compact with the community.

Bravo to those who are sticking their necks out and providing Gustavo with the shady facts about the Kushner/Spitz business strategies.

The Register is in a spiral downfall. It is not growing.

The atmosphere at 625 is funerial.

JiveTalkin
JiveTalkin

I doubt cutting out hotel expenses would save that many jobs. Not sure about the compassion part, he said it's always a very hard day when you have to lay people off, but it's the type of thing we get through as a team and a community.

NotSoHopeful
NotSoHopeful

@Hopefully As Beenthere eluded before, this is someone's ego trip. The ivy league schooling only seems to have produced a sense of entitlement not the skills needed to run a company. He has surrounded himself with the chosen that spend their time affirming his fantasies instead of providing the hard financial facts needed to avoid things like layoffs and furloughs. Aaron doesn't lead; he reigns. This is his monarchy and everyone is less worthy than him. There is no doubt that you work for, not with, AK.

A mix of Putin like arrogance, Napoleonistic dominance, and a plain ol' batshit craziness of Louis II, there is no compassion for the people he is putting on the street or the people who can't make their rent because they're going to lose two week's pay (minimum).

Dweezle
Dweezle

Interesting comment. I have noticed the change in Voice of OC. Articles are less critical, less reporting & more fluff. and many names I do not recognize.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@beenthere Tell us more... garellano at ocweekly dot com. Anonymity guaranteed!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JBinOC Per your last paragraph...*cough* *cough* our ears are burning!

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

"Print is dead."

-Dr. Egon Spengler, June 8, 1984

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

I'm all for that but make sure you have Ad Block Plus installed because ads are the only way they'd make money.


20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

I do.  2600Hz.


Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

I was wondering what happened to the OC component of the LA Times. It seems to have disappeared after the Times transitioned to its new (terrible, annoying, confusing, mind of its own) format.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@NotSoHopeful 

"A mix of Putin like arrogance, Napoleonistic dominance, and a plain ol' batshit craziness of Louis II, there is no compassion for the people he is putting on the street or the people who can't make their rent because they're going to lose two week's pay (minimum)."

So, so true  

 

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