Conscious Uncoupling, which is not to be confused with unconscious coupling, is a phrase that Gwyneth Paltrow coined recently to announce her impending divorce. Fear not, Anne and I are still on agreeable terms and since this post is not about her, this should remain true, at least for another day. No, the cognitive dissonance of which I write here is not between husband and wife, but between me and my employer. Let me give you some background.
Back in February, the Saint Louis union local signed their new contract. In this contract was language that covered an early retirement package. In exchange for accepting the freezing of their pensions, employees who were close to thirty years would have the difference made good, if they then quit. Additionally, up to six-month’s severance pay would also be added. A couple of weeks later the company froze the pensions for all non-union employees, including me. Since then, I and many of my brother (and sister) engineers have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. The rumor mill has been running full-tilt-boogie for months, but today we all learned that the drop dead date will be this Friday.
All of these machinations are designed to improve the company’s competitiveness in my business segment. What was announced today was that on Friday the Ts & Cs of a Voluntary Layoff (VLO) package would be formalized. The announced VLO target is management and senior engineers, like me. All indications (rumors) are that this VLO package will simply be the severance section of the union deal, with the pension plus-up portion no longer on the table. That ship appears to have already sailed, but nothing is yet written in stone. If what I heard today is true, then the VLO package is a non-starter for me. I might as well wait for the involuntary layoff package, which is the same as the VLO, at least as of today. Stay tuned.