Hard Times Hit the Chronicle: Restrooms Cleaned Just Twice a Day, Unbleached Towels and Defrost Your Own Damn Refrigerators

Categories: Spaced City

dwork.jpg
It's unbleached towels now....
The Houston Chronicle has been hit with the same rough economy as others in the print media. Sometimes that leads to layoffs.

Sometimes it leads to cutting back on the janitorial services. A new memo from management outlines the shocking hardships Chron staffers will now have to undergo in an effort to help Hearst's bottom line.

The memo:

Changes in Janitorial Services
Effective Monday, November 14, 2011

In an effort to reduce expenses, there will be some changes to the janitorial services provided by GCA. Some of these changes will be seamless while others more apparent. Listed below are the most dramatic of the changes that will take effect on Monday, November 14 at all Houston Chronicle locations....

Refrigerators - GCA will no longer clean out or defrost refrigerators. If your department or an individual has a refrigerator, the department's employees or individual users are responsible for cleaning and maintaining it. As always, if the refrigerator is broken or needs service, a work order for repairs can be submitted to the Help Desk.

WHAT?!?!? What kind of heartless, slave-driving corporation demands that employees take care of their stuff in the refrigerator?

Frankly, we're more used to working in places that send out the occasional pleading memo that says something like "There's food that looks like science experiments, people -- PLEASE take care of it!!!!!!"

Chronicle Garage cleaning - Rather than the current daily cleaning of the parking garage, GCA will be cleaning the garage three times each week.

Paper products - Some of the paper products that are currently in use such as roll towels in the bathrooms will be replaced with unbleached towels. Also less expensive folded hand towels/napkins will be supplied to the kitchens.

801 Texas used to be such a classy place. The magic is gone.

Restroom cleaning - The frequency of service will now become twice a day for regularly staffed areas, once/day on floors that have a small number of employees. On the 5th floor and 4 North, GCA will continue to clean restrooms three times/day based on the large number of people working in these areas.

Meeting room set ups - GCA will no longer set up tables and chairs for meetings. They will not have adequate personal on site daily to perform janitorial services and set up meeting rooms throughout the day. Each department holding a meeting will be responsible for setting up and tearing down the room configuration...

If that last one results in fewer meetings, we're guessing reporters won't complain.

Full memo after the jump:


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18 comments
Steve
Steve

Hey, at least they didn't confiscate the refrigerators:)

More seriously though, better to cut costs there than to hire replacement reporters off shore.

Um Ah
Um Ah

Nice memo. Mary Ann Wendt, is that you? Better tell Sweeney that you need a raise before the ship hits the iceburg!

Poor Hearst would save quite a bit of cash if they consolidated their HR departments down to a few local flunkies at each property to handle such issues, and packaged out their directors/VPs, leaving one VP at the Hearst Tower to oversee the HR empire.

But then those big 6-figure salaries gotta go to someone, huh?

Don John
Don John

I do sympathize with the Chronicle, knowing that all of print media is having terrible difficulties, but then I read something ridiculous like this memo, and I just get so pissed at all the random wastes of money that still happen. It's like they're just incapable of adapting and it's a real shame, since a city like Houston really needs a quality daily paper.

That said, I wouldn't be so smug. Didn't the Houston Press just lose (at least) two editors due to your own rickety finances? Doesn't Village Voice Media only survive because of the (repeatedly sex-slave-linked) classified ads in the back? And how much money did you lose on the Houston Press concert festival you threw a few months back, trying to steal a little glory from the Free Press Summerfest?

The HP is a solid paper with excellent local coverage and a couple of very good feature writers. I wish you all the best, but remind you of the expression: there but for fortune goes you or I. Seems especially true in the world of print journalism.

Robin
Robin

I have been dealing with their "yard spam" for YEARS out of sympathy.  Every weekend, they throw a free but unwanted plastic bag filled with ads and a Parade magazine in my yard.  And every weekend, I grumble and throw it directly into my recycle bin.  And now I find out I'm subsidizing their rather luxurious janitorial culture?  Jeez!  I work for one of the ubiquitous pipeline companies, and I haven't had a clean refrigerator, or frankly, bathroom, since Enron's implosion!  WTF!

AliGato
AliGato

"Adequate personnel", not "adequate personal"!  Oh, and "manpower constraints" not "manpower restraints".  Perhaps they shouldn't have dismissed the proof readers.

Sihaya
Sihaya

So, a few years back when management was throwing away Chron staffers like used (bleached, high quality) tissue, did anybody look up from the financial books and say, "Hey, if we were to renegotiate our janitorial contract, we could probably afford to keep one more staffer at the newsdesk!"?

Rosebud
Rosebud

Stop flushing in protest, chronicle staffers! We are with you!

Chauncydemille
Chauncydemille

fwiw, I see vanishing readers far, far more at the Chron than at the Houston Press. 

If you claim  "print media is having terrible difficulties" I would say that applies more to dailies like the Chron, who have typically wrapped giant advertising revenues around national wire stories that we've all been getting faster via the web for about 10 years now. That's why the Chron has decided to 'go local' and copy the Press with their 29-95 product. Has there been a more blatant rip-off in Houston media? 

The Chron's lack of in-touchness with Houston's local community is underscored when you criticize the Houston Press festival above. I was at that event seeing Cake, and Deer Tick, and I've been to scores of other Houston Press festivals that feature local businesses face-to-face. The Chron? What do they have? Zip. Nada.

Print is not dead. Lousy print is dead. And lousy print is everywhere nowadays, because it's so easy to produce. But it remains on the racks, just sitting there, a ripe target for simpletons like you who paint with broad brushes.

Um Ah
Um Ah

The best way to combat that stuff is complain to the advertisers.

Gaff in a Head Act
Gaff in a Head Act

Not to sound unsympathetic, but you started it. At least your industry still gets tax breaks out the wazoo and "passes" from regulators -- both of which the Fourth Estate never got, much less gets. Plus, your industry wasn't all but dismantled by the Bush regime(s)....

Um Ah
Um Ah

HR has never had a problem sending out misspelled, poorly-written memos.

The best part is when they send an email and then a hard-copy. You know, to make sure everyone gets it.

Hahahah

Um Ah
Um Ah

They did it with the security staff. There used to be on-staff security and now Wackenhut (minimum wage, no benes) gets the $$$.

I wouldn't doubt they've done the same with the custodians.

Texas Spork
Texas Spork

"Baah! Re-porters, Schmee-porters! Replace 'em with hobby bloggers!!! and put in a comment feature to fill up the online space with crazy talk - that'll create the illusion of content! It'll sell Gun Show Ads, anyway! Parker, GET ME SPIDERMAN!! Where's my latte?!?"

Um Ah
Um Ah

Up next: adult diapers for all! *cackle*

Gaff in a Head Act
Gaff in a Head Act

Hell, I'm still with the Houston Post folks--and all the other "free" presses that got blown up by corporate greed in the form of junk bonds (Billy Dean Singleton, you know who you are).

Don John
Don John

Forgive me for being skeptical of someone who condemns painting with broad brushes while issuing statements like "Print is not dead. Lousy print is dead".

The point isn't that good bands played at the Houston Press BestFest (they did), it's that the HP lost a substantial amount of money they couldn't afford to lose trying to duplicate the achievement of a rival paper (Free Press Summerfest). The BestFest took place in September; in October, the HP laid off (at least) one editor and one staff writer.

And there have been layoffs like these across the Village Voice Media chain. In fact, by VVM's own accounting, the only reason they haven't gone bankrupt is because of the extensive collection of "adult-themed" ads they sell -- ads which have been repeatedly connected to prostitution and human-trafficking groups. Have you flipped through the back pages of the HP lately? Do you even notice who buys up the ad space?

Regarding 29-95 and the attempt to "go local', I agree that it's an inferior product to the HP, but I don't understand why you would criticize the entire idea of them trying to create dedicated local coverage, since you JUST CRITICIZED them for not having more local coverage.

Again, I'm not against the Houston Press. I think they're an excellent paper and I love to read them. I'm just reminding them (and you) that no print media entity is safe anymore, and I'd hesitate to gloat over the (occasionally absurd) struggles of another local paper.

Um Ah
Um Ah

Nice. The Post has been gone for what, 16 years?

I don't think it is coming back, ever.

JDempsey
JDempsey

Don John writes:

"In fact, by VVM's own accounting, the only reason they haven't gone bankrupt is because of the extensive collection of "adult-themed" ads they sell -- ads which have been repeatedly connected to prostitution and human-trafficking groups. Have you flipped through the back pages of the HP lately? Do you even notice who buys up the ad space?"

Well, yes, I just checked. Let's see... 4 pages of adult ads out of 68 pages in this week's issue. That "extensive collection" must be bringing in some massive revenue to be propping up the entire paper. And if Free Press is a 'rival paper' , HP really, really has problems that aren't adding up.

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