Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Memo


To be "eligible" you have to be fired. Get it?

I guess there's no easy way to do a layoff, and the people laid off in the BusinessWeek-Bloomberg marriage--123 of them, to be exact--have been treated with as much dignity as the situation allows.

I know that there were exactly 123 people laid off, because that's the number that was disclosed in a memo distributed to them from somebody in the labyrinthine McGraw-Hill bureaucracy. (So a Bloomberg spokesperson was correct in saying that the total number fired was not 130, as initially reported.)

One of the affected people was kind enough to give me a look at the memo, which is a list of the titles of the people laid off, along with their ages, and a list of the people kept, with their ages. No names on either list. I'm not sure why this memo was sent out to these people. Some federal law requirement, I've heard.

What struck me were not the lists themselves, with their Schindler-like quality, but the language that was used to describe the people who survived and didn't (pardon the expression) survive the selection.

The memo begins, "The positions selected for termination were those who did not receive an offer of a comparable or substitute job with Bloomberg L.P., Geller & Company LLC, or The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc."

OK, that's straightforward enough. But then come the lists.

List B, showing the people fired, is entitled, "Individuals selected for inclusion in the restructuring program."

List C, listing the people kept on, is entitled, "Individuals ineligible or not selected for inclusion in the restructuring program."

"Ineligible or not selected." Poor bastards.

Seriously, couldn't they have put more thought into the way these lists were described? I mean, this is a communications company and all that.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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