Today at 4 p.m., San Francisco Chronicle
staffers will cut a cake and lift a glass to the abrupt end of many of their careers. At least 80 union employees have accepted the paper's buyout offer and guild rep Carl T. Hall anticipates that number will easily grow to 100 or perhaps even 150 by the buyout offer's deadline day of March 31.
Hearst Corporation had expressed a desire to shed 150 union workers but "there's a chance they won't have to lay anyone off," noted Hall. As noted in an earlier SF Weekly story
, an ultimatum from the paper's pension plan -- unrelated to the recent hardball union negotiating and threats to shutter the Chron
-- has spurred many of the paper's vets to take the buyout. Workers not handing in their badges by the end of the month will be ineligible for a lump sum pension payment and would have the funds deferred until their 65th birthdays.
"I couldn't not take the offer. The money wasn't the only issue, but it certainly was a factor," said departing Chron
fashion editor Sylvia Rubin, a 31-year employee -- who added that today is the last day for "a lot of veteran reporters whose names you know."
One of those names: Carl T. Hall.
"I am applying for the paper's generous offer," he confirmed, with an ironic lilt in his voice. "I haven't done it yet. I will march in with a colleague with our arms locked in a suicide pact. And if either of us gets weak at the knees..." His voice trailed off.
Hall cleared his throat. "I have a bright future in the labor movement."