The Tribune company, which filed for Chapter 11 in December, is expected to argue in bankruptcy court today that it needs to spend $70 million on executive bonuses.
“Incentivizing employees is essential to Tribune’s future succes. We must continue motivating our people to overcome obstacles, achieve our performance goals and take the company to the next level,” the Tribune’s COO Randy Michaels wrote the court in a letter earlier this month.
The Tribune execs asked the court to seal their request. The court did not and so came the howls of protest.
Last Tuesday, the Newspaper Guild filed an objection to the bonuses. The objection reads:
“The proposed bonuses to top executives are excessive and may, in fact, have a detrimental effect on motivating others who contribute to the bottom line. Indeed, the payment of disproportionate bonuses to a select group of executives may have the opposite effect on the rank-and-file employees.”
Guild president Bill Salganik wrote in an email:
“If Tribune has $69.9 million available to spend, we think it would be better spent on providing more and better news and service for readers and viewers and advertisers. That would not only serve the public better, but would be better for the business in the long run.”
The AFL-CIO, which represents some employees at the Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun and WPIX-TV in New York joined the fray, complaining about a specific, unnamed executive:
One of the top executives seeking the $2 million bonus said in an e-mail to employees in February that “a salary freeze enables us to share the sacrifice.” It’s not clear how a $2 million bonus enables the top managers to share the sacrifice.
The Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to review the bonus plan Aug. 11, but the unions asked the court to delay its review until the Tribune makes more information available.
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