Tuesday, December 18, 2007

“We pay overtime. We are very scrupulous about paying overtime."

UPDATE: Joe Strupp wrote a story published this afternoon in Editor & Publisher. Read it here. Also, Romenesko linked to the TL story.

It's go time. In Tuesday's editions, the Times Leader reports on the federal investigation of overtime practices in the newsroom of The Times-Tribune of Scranton. Editor Larry Beaupre says the newspaper is very scrupulous about paying overtime. Former reporter Sarah Molina told TL reporter Sherry Long that "Times-Tribune reporters often worked 14-hour days and 50-to-60-hour weeks without receiving overtime pay or additional days off."

Um. So. Either Beaupre (who also called the story a "rumor") (?) or Molina is lying. Kudos to Molina for being willing to go on the record, though she'll probably be crucified for her courage.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

How credible is Molina? Was she lying when she told her co-workers at the TT that she once did cocaine while on duty at The Oklahoman?
Or how about her myspace blog that she wrote took her "all of her police shift to complete" while on duty at the TT in July.
She even wrote on the blog that she had trouble waking up to be on time for a 3:30 p.m. staff meeting each day. Let's do the math. Barely making it to the meeting for 3:30, add a 14-15 hour shift on that, and that puts her in the office until 5:30 am or 6:30 am. I bet there are several editors who are there until at least 2 am who will tell you they NEVER saw Molina in the office after 11 pm.

It's clear she has an axe to grind.

Anonymous said...

“It was just an unwritten rule that you don’t ask for overtime if you value your job. That was told point blank to a reporter one day,” Molina said. She said she never filed overtime sheets because she figured the overtime would not be approved.

Yet dozens of other employees did hand in overtime paperwork and were paid. She's either stupid or didn't care about the money at the time. I'd be more interested in looking at the list of people who were paid OT than the list of people who claim they weren't. My bet is the paid list is large. The unpaid list, not so much.

Doesn't her case end at "I didn't submit the paperwork?"

Anonymous said...

As a former editor at the TT who left on good terms, let me tell you Larry Beaupre was adamant that we pay overtime to workers who stayed later or worked extra hours. ADAMANT! As an editor who did ask staffers to help with extra assignments outside their regular realm, I would often get called into Larry's office where he would insist I make sure they get paid overtime. No ifs, and or buts!

Anonymous said...

That paper is beyond anal about paying overtime. It was always paid when submitted and anyone who didn't submit it is a fool. They don't fuck around with overtime there.

Anonymous said...

The TT also pays overtime for working over 37.5 hours a week. The law says you only have to pay it for more than 40 hours.

Mr. Brown said...

Sarah Molina? Are you kidding me? I currently work at the Times and was here during Molina's ill-conceived stint. It was ill-conceived because whomever conceived the idea of hiring her must have been ill. She did nothing. Look in our archives and tell me what she did that our readers cared about. Bottom line is this, I have worked OT quite a bit and have never, ever been told not to put in for it. Never been told you can't have it. Also, have never been MADE to work 12, 14, 16 hour shifts. When it is called for, we may have to work a little longer, like snowstorms, elections, etc. But, we are compensated very fairly for it and as someone pointed out, after 37.5 hours we are compensated for it, we don't have to wait until 40 hours. That is a bunch of crap. If Molina didn't like it here, probably the feelings were similar to that of her colleagues and perhaps her bosses.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure everything at The Times is just as hunky-dory as portrayed here. Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

You people are complaining about the TT in one breath, then in the other, you're praising it. Sounds like no one at the TT can get their story straight.

Anonymous said...

1. So what if she did some blow in college? What, are we electing a Democratic presidential nominee now? This is like Hillary's boy going after Obama. Molina isn't a saint. She's a former newspaper reporter.

2. Even if she did work on something personal while on the clock, that doesn't make her a) especially unique or b) exempt from overtime rules. Goofing off this week doesn't make it OK for the newspaper to not pay you next week for overtime that you worked.

3. At least Molina signed her name to her charges, unlike the chorus of people alternately ripping her and praising the newspaper's editors.

3.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, 9:20 a.m. Molina's "goofing off" was probably a fraction of the time Chris Imperiale spends on his fantasy whatever team/MySpace or Ed Christine spent on YouTube/downloading Rocky ringtones. And don't even get me started on Chris Kelly and his smoke/Starbucks breaks.

Every reporter wastes time. Singling her out because she had the courage to come forward and speak out against her company is unfair.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between "goofing off" a little and taking "all" of her police shift to do something.

You're right that the TT would still have to compensate her. But I'd be pretty pissed if I knew someone was screwing around doing personal stuff 2-3 hours every day and then billed me for overtime when they had to actually work.

In the news business, there are slow times and busy times. I've worked 20+ hours of overtime during a week without bothering to ask for extra pay. I've also blown off part of an afternoon at a movie if my work was done and I had time to kill before a meeting.

"Comp" time works both ways though. If you're not actually working the time you're at the office, then it's comp time. You can't take comp time and bill for overtime when things get busy.

Anonymous said...

Why stop at the TT? I know people at the Voice - Kalinowski, Skrapits, others - who work 10 or 12-hour days and never get paid OT. Holeva knows they're not receiving OT, yet condones it.
I'm going to call Wage and Hour and file my own complaint.

Anonymous said...

If Molina needed 60 hours a week to grind out the what little she seemed to do, maybe TS oughta ask for its money back.

Anonymous said...

Wow, seems the Times Shamrock spin doctors were up early this morning.

Anonymous said...

In response to 9:31 a.m.:

The three people you mention are all managers and all work 55-60 hours a week anyway. nice try, but I think they are allowed a little free time in between.

Sounds like a bitter ex-reporter who is back in school, to me.

Anonymous said...

Whereas the whiners seem to be on the job 24/7.

I'm surprised they aren't expecting OT for that, too.

Son of Slavin said...

The next time Kelly puts in 55-60 hours a week on his actual job will be the first one. Same with Christine, who raised the newsroom circle jerk to an art form but never had time to edit stories.
Imperiale, maybe. He's a hard-working guy.

Jamie's Friend said...

As a former Times-Shamrock employee (though not at TT), I can honestly say that I never had a problem recieving my OT pay. HOWEVER, the fact that I didn't does not mean that another employee didn't.

People are complaining b/c she was "goofing off" during work hours. Uh, hello? Ever BEEN to a newsroom? Plenty of goofing off goes on -- you can't be interviewing subjects/writing stories for 8-hour days.

And, knowing how "generous" TS is with its health benefits, does it honestly suprise anyone that they may be willing to bend the OT pay rules at least a little?

I think, as journalists, we OWE it to Molina to withold our judgement of her until all of the facts come out. I think we can at least show her that little professional courtesy.

Anonymous said...

Given that Molina is no longer a journalist and never really was one when employed as one, we don't owe her shit. Did she ever turn in the OT slip on the OT she claims she never got??

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me. Anyone who says the TT willingly and eagery doled out overtime pay is lying or out of touch with reality.

I have personally seen E.C.and others have a chickadee at the mention of OxxxTxxx. Like Valdamort it's the word that couldn't be spoken.
Story demands, meeting coverage, enterprise, Sunday stories, the inane drudgery of school notes/beat notes/around the towns,(oh, yeah, breaking news?) guarantee that no mortal works less than 40 hours.

I don't know where the posters up above worked, but I hope they seek help for their addiction.

Anonymous said...

This is a big who cares story. I didn't work at the TT, but did work at the TL and it seemed the only ones that bitched about OT were the ones that didn't work. People who do their job well don't clock watch enough to care about this.

Joel said...

SARAH IS DRAG-TASTIC screw all you haters

Anonymous said...

8:18...

This is the point that needs to be made here: For most of the people I've talked to about their time at TT, their gripes have nothing to do with clockwatching, "professionalism," commitment to journalism or working a couple of extra unpaid hours every now and then in order to do great journalism.

It's about doing an endless stream of middling work and bureaucratic bullshit to fed the TT beast. It's about working in a cut-throat pressure-cooker and not getting the time to do good work (as the TL did in past years). If the TT were a fun place to work and all the extra hours were in an effort to produce great work rather than massive amounts of bylines, I don't think you'd have so many disenchanted former employees.

The turn-over numbers at that place don't lie, and I know for a fact my former advisory tells j-schools grads to stay the hell away from the place. But I guess everyone is free to keep drinking the kool aid if they want.

Anonymous said...

I surely never tire of that clever kool-aid analogy.

Anonymous said...

Beaupre says TS is "scrupulous" about OT....on the same day Roger Clemens denies using steroids. Well, I'd say that settles those topics. What do we talk about now?

Anonymous said...

None of the B.S. matters. If they put Murphy or Ed Christine on the stand to defend the company's overtime policies, Sarah will end up owning 149 Penn Ave.

Anonymous said...

How do you know when Beaupre is lying? His lips are moving!

Anonymous said...

We're talking about somewhere in the ballpark of $108 in overtime that Molina claims she is owed. Yeah I'm sure it's a big conspiracy not to pay her that whopping $108. Come on. The more likely scenario is that she never turned in an OT slip - if she actually worked 4 hours overtime like she claims.

Anonymous said...

is beaupre wearing a clip-on tie in that photo?

John Mitchell said...

No, it's the kind that has a tab on each tie that connect between the two collars. I've got a couple of those, and it's a neat look. Beaupre is nothing if not debonair.

Anonymous said...

The story in Editor and Publisher sucked. Who writes like that!

Anonymous said...

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Sarah, you did the right thing.