Friday, December 12, 2008

IBEW 1212 Responds To Tribune Bankruptcy

IBEW 1212 Responds To Tribune Bankruptcy
IBEW Local 1212
225 West 34th Street
Suite 1120 New York NY 10122
(212) 354-6770

To: IBEW Local 1212 represented employees at WPIX
From: Ralph Avigliano, Senior Representative
Date: 11 December 2008

As you know, Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 this past Monday.

Here is some information regarding the effect of this action on the IBEW represented employees at WPIX.

1) There are two types of bankruptcy:

Chapter 7 - Liquidation: closing the company and selling their assets and

Chapter 11 - Reorganization: their debt obligations are put on hold while the company restructures, reorganizes, renegotiates their debt obligations, and looks for new financing. Many companies, United Airlines for example, have gone through reorganization under Chapter 11 and emerged successfully.

2) Tribune has filed under Chapter 11. The company has been given 180 days to develop a reorganization plan acceptable to the bankruptcy court. Failing that, the court will consider alternate plans from Tribune's creditors and other stakeholders.

3) Under Chapter 11, the company continues to operate, pay the employees and venders, and is under the supervision of a Judge, assisted by a committee of creditors (people Tribune owes money).

4) By law, Tribune must honor their union contracts. Although they can ask the union to modify the current contract and, if the union refuses, both parties present their case to the Judge. Even if the Judge rules in favor of Tribune, IBEW retains bargaining rights, requiring the company to negotiate with the union.

5) If the station is sold, IBEW retains the right to bargain with the new owners of WPIX.

6) The IBEW will review and share with the membership any changes proposed by Tribune.

7) Although pension and 401K plans can be affected, changes can only be made after all concerned parties have made their case to the Judge. If the court allows changes, the union can revisit this issue with the Judge at a later date to increase benefits.

8) The IBEW represented employees at WPIX were excluded from participation in the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), so our members will not have to deal with the problems the bankruptcy will cause the "employee owners" of Tribune.

9) Tribune has stopped severance payments to all laid off employees. Fortunately, no full time staff members of IBEW have been laid off to date, so we remain unaffected by this as well.

10) The IBEW will continue to represent the interests of the members at WPIX throughout Tribune's bankruptcy process.

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