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Get laid off in public.
July 30, 2002 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Get laid off in public. Vanguard Airlines suspends operations; posts its system-wide pink slip on its HOME PAGE for you all to see. "Wages and salaries owed you as of today are "prepetition wages" and likely will not be paid for a matter of months, if not longer.... Any Vanguard stock you hold (including stock purchased in the Employee Stock Purchase Plan) is almost certainly worthless and it is likely you will be entitled to claim a capital loss on such stock this year." But not all is gloomy: the CEO "wish[es] you the best in your future career. You will be in our prayers." Aww, shucks.
posted by PrinceValium (29 comments total)

 
van·guard (vngärd)
n.
a. The foremost position in an army or fleet advancing into battle.
b. The foremost or leading position in a trend or movement.
c. Those occupying a foremost position.

Heh.
posted by ColdChef at 11:16 AM on July 30, 2002


i'm a bit confused - what's the intention of this post? it doesn't shock or amuse me, for example. in fact, for a note telling you you've lost your job it seems quite humane - the writer seems to be trying to answer any questions people might have and is obviously aware of their problems.

is it the public bit? it's not shameful to lose your job. from the text it's clear that the staff were aware there were problems. i wouldn't have been offended by this message (although i'd obviously be rather unhappy at losing my job).

if they'd only put up info for passengers about alternative ticketing arrangements, would it have been any better? wouldn't ex employees have been left wondering what was happening?

(good luck to any ex-employees who end up reading this thread via search engines etc at some point...)
posted by andrew cooke at 11:16 AM on July 30, 2002


At first I though this post said, "Get laid in public," and I was, like, wow.
posted by Tin Man at 11:18 AM on July 30, 2002


Thought. Not though. Thought. Damn.
posted by Tin Man at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2002


It's the public bit. It isn't shameful to lose your job, but there are more tactful ways of relaying such information as when you can pick up your personal belongings. Most companies have employees' home phone numbers, and a simple message on the website providing a number to call with a recorded message would have sufficed. Also, assuming that all employees have voice mail boxes, and there is no reason for these to be switched off, this would also have been a relatively barrier-free way to communicate.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2002


so a company that couldn't make enough money went out of business......i feel bad for the employees and whatnot, but.....is this really worthy of any discussion here?
posted by zoopraxiscope at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2002


Had we received ATSB loan approval earlier this year, I am confident we would have survived. But we did not. Although we were having a little success in convincing ATSB that Vanguard should receive a loan, we ran out of time.

Because bankruptcy is never, ever, the company's fault.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:23 AM on July 30, 2002


Well, all's well and good so long as the CEO is praying for you every night (in his multimillion dollar mansion, living off his offshore stash of cash) while you lose your job, your retirement, your house. Sure was good working for Vanguard back when! ...sigh... They were such a good Christian principled type corporation!
posted by nofundy at 11:24 AM on July 30, 2002


I think it is extremely unusual for a company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to announce that its stock is "almost certainly worthless" on the company's home page.

This will hurt any efforts in bankruptcy to get value for the creditors. You're supposed to let the trustee string employees along with false hopes for a year or two and then break the bad news.
posted by rcade at 11:28 AM on July 30, 2002


Mr. andrew cooke, with all the inanity on the front page, and you having been around a while (600 mefi/meta posts or comments) --- to wonder out loud why this got posted!!!! What is it about this innocuous little link that finally caused you to snap? Anyway, about the post, I think it's a good one. I know when I got laid off, I had the memo handed to me personally, and got to read it in the presence of the HR person. This was a "warm" layoff. Next coldest would be email, and third-coldest would be to post it on the Web. Just because some things are better done privately doesn't mean they're shameful.
posted by luser at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2002


Is this real, or was the site defaced? I have a hard time believing that this kind of notification of job termination is even legal. A good labor lawyer could probably do something, but who would you sue? The company is bankrupt.

Sucks for the employees, though.
posted by mrmanley at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2002


The truly tragic part of all this is that I was supposed to fly on Vanguard this weekend. Me me me!

Seriously. Damn.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2002


It's absolutely real. I know people intimately involved in the run-up to this.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2002


UrbanFigaro, the nearly-bankrupt Frontier and National are offering to rebook passengers from the totally-bankrupt Vanguard.

Ahh, the economy is a wonderful thing.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2002


What is it about this innocuous little link that finally caused you to snap?

the client just decided on new requirements 8 months into the project. that and, apparently, some kind of cultural misconnection on the etiquette of bankruptcy...
posted by andrew cooke at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2002


This post was very useful and informative.

(The above was a lie.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:18 PM on July 30, 2002


Vanguard: "a. The foremost position in an army or fleet advancing into battle."

Huh.
Isn't that the army unit that usually suffers the most casualties?
Who'da thunk it.

(Anyway, I agree... It's a stupid move to post employee communication so publicly as that.)
posted by teradome at 12:44 PM on July 30, 2002


While it sucks that everyone is now laid off, i'd rather have the site info there so I can print it out and at least have a reference of everything. I'm sure official letters will be coming soon, but with the abrupt nature of the shutdown this is the quickest way for people to make different arrangements.
posted by LinemanBear at 1:03 PM on July 30, 2002


I think this is outrageous, as a matter of dignity and respect. I got made redundant once, along with 300 others, finding out via a memo, which seemed outrageous at the time. Being laid off is a delicate matter, which if handled badly can have a lasting impact. Finding out in a non-exclusive manner, such as a public webpage, is shocking and unacceptable, as well as showing cowardice
posted by boneybaloney at 1:10 PM on July 30, 2002


Best Line:

Your management team and I continue to believe that Vanguard held an excellent industry position and had demonstrated the viability of the business strategy. However, the general skepticism of investors towards airlines since September 11, coupled with Vanguard's history of losses, prevented us from obtaining significant new capital.

I like how they blame their position on September 11th, but just sort of sneak in the fact that they had a "history of losses".
posted by SweetJesus at 1:15 PM on July 30, 2002


I like how he speaks for the management team, who probably aren't getting paid anymore either.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:41 PM on July 30, 2002


Maybe they were relying on not too many people visiting the web page. Maybe they were relying on it not being a FPP on Metafilter. :)
posted by vbfg at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2002


Finding out in a non-exclusive manner, such as a public webpage, is shocking and unacceptable, as well as showing cowardice.

Well, hell, it's not like there's a list of people with their e-mail addresses there, just waiting for us to send them a note of riducule. "Ha-ha! You got laid off! You're worthless!"

If there is such a list, please let me know post-haste so I can get started on the e-mailing.
posted by kindall at 4:19 PM on July 30, 2002


Vanguard is (was) a publically traded company. For them to tell their employees that they were going to go bankrupt and have to fire everyone without issuing a press release would be serious violation of securities law.
posted by jaek at 5:08 PM on July 30, 2002


I understand that the company posted the information for its laid-off employees on the website. It's not entirely clear to me that they were notified only by the website; in fact, it makes little sense. How would they know to check it? What if they showed up to work? Was there a sign on the door with an URL?

Personally, I would assume they were notified privately in some fashion, unless donkeyschlong etc. swear otherwise.
posted by dhartung at 5:11 PM on July 30, 2002


Seems like a last minute effort for covering their ass.

*shrug*
posted by mrplab at 5:16 PM on July 30, 2002


Based on the reports of travellers sitting around at airport gates this morning, it seems that employees knew about the layoff because, well, they didn't bother showing up at their jobs today. People were milling about at Pittsburgh International wondering where the gate agents and, well, planes were. Oops.
posted by Dreama at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2002


1) I was amused that operations ceased at 1am, shortly after the last plane of the night landed. Wouldn't want a laid-off pilot to stop flying the plane...

2) I bought a ticket on Vanguard for a friend of mine, so naturally I'm pretty ticked off. I can't think of another MeFi post that's been directly related to me losing $200, so go-go relevancy there... Damn.
posted by kfury at 11:45 PM on July 30, 2002


boneybaloney : "Finding out in a non-exclusive manner, such as a public webpage, is shocking and unacceptable, as well as showing cowardice."

kindall : "Well, hell, it's not like there's a list of people with their e-mail addresses there, just waiting for us to send them a note of riducule. "Ha-ha! You got laid off! You're worthless!"

I meant that it's equivalent to having it broadcast, and you finding out at that time. Would you like to be listening to the radio to find out you we're being laid off? It's a time when you want a bit of space, not the whole world knowing.

I meant cowardice on the part of Vanguard (for not telling employees in one-on-one style), apologies for not making it completely clear. If the employees were notified before the webpage was put up, then hey, fair dues. But that certainly wasn't my impression from the FPP. Apologies if I got the wrong end of the stick. :o)
posted by boneybaloney at 7:38 AM on July 31, 2002


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