Beleaguered Post Promises Employee Raises

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Palm Beach Post staffers: Some of you are getting raises.

That's the word from Post Publisher Tim Burke in an email that would have sounded ludicrous just a few months ago.

After two brutal years of layoffs and buyouts for hundreds of employees -- the newsroom staff was chopped roughly in half, the Sun-Sentinel took over printing the paper, stories shrank, and beats were shuffled -- the daily is finally boasting a tiny recovery.

How much of this is wishful thinking is hard to tell. After all, Palm Beach Post Newspapers Inc.  just laid off a handful of employees at La Palma, the paper's Spanish-language spinoff, around Christmas.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of newsroom griping about who qualifies for these "merit" raises. But in the meantime, the promise of more money is tough to protest. Here's an excerpt from Burke's email:

From: Burke, Tim (CNI-Palm Beach)
To: All PBNI Employees
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 2:16 PM
Subject: Update from Tim  

I know there have been a lot of questions -- and hope -- about whether we would be able to give raises early this year.  I'm pleased to say, "Yes!" we will be awarding merit pay increases; and "Yes!" they will be retroactive to January 1.Given the uneven economic climate, and our thin operating margins, we needed to see how the first few months of the year trended. You're already aware we got off to a positive start in January. That trend continued in February, when an excellent month on expenses offset a slight dip in our advertising revenues. We've regained some revenue swagger in March. All told, through the first 76 days of 2010 we are exceeding our budgeted revenue goals and managing our costs effectively.   Well done! 

I hope you understand that we're still inching out of this historic recession, so the raise pool in 2010 will be slightly smaller than in years past. (There will be a few employees who will be excluded because they received increases during our reorganization last year.) 

Overall, however, it's important to reward you not only for operating, producing and delivering our publications and Web sites during challenging times, but, in many cases, improving our products/content, delivery and customer service at the same time. That's quite the accomplishment in my book.

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