Paranoia (088 of 170)

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Paranoia
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
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Part Four: 44 (Cont'd)

I had the distinct feeling that Camilletti was making this up, that in reality his investment-banker father lived in a gated community in Boca and played a lot of golf, but Goddard's eyes seemed to glisten.

"Adam," Goddard said, "you see my point, don't you?"

For a moment I felt like a deer frozen in the headlights. It was obvious what Goddard wanted to hear from me. But after a few seconds I shook my head. "To me," I said slowly, "it looks like if you don't do it now, you'll probably have to cut even more jobs a year from now. So I have to say I'm with Mr.—with Paul."

Camilletti reached out a hand and patted me on the shoulder. I recoiled a little. I didn't want it to look like I was choosing sides—against my boss. Not a good way to start off the new job.

"What sort of terms are you proposing?" Goddard said with a sigh.

Camilletti smiled. "Four weeks of severance pay."

"No matter how long they've been with us? No. Two weeks of severance pay for every year they've been with us, plus an additional two weeks for every year beyond ten years."

"That's insane, Jock! In some cases, we'll be paying out a year's severance pay, maybe more."

"That's not severance," muttered Jim Colvin, "that's welfare."

Goddard shrugged. "Either we lay off on those terms, or we don't lay off at all." He gave me a mournful look. "Adam, if you ever go out to dinner with Paul, don't let him choose the wine." Then he turned back to his CFO. "You want the layoffs effective June 1, is that right?"

Camilletti nodded warily.

"Somewhere in the back of my mind," Goddard said, "I have this vague recollection that we signed a one-year severance contract with the CableSign division we acquired last year that expires on May thirty-first. Day before."

Camilletti shrugged.

"Well, Paul, that's almost a thousand workers who'd get a month's salary plus a month's pay for each year served—if we lay them off one day earlier. A decent severance package. That one day'll make a huge difference to those folks. Now they'll get a lousy two weeks."

"June first is the beginning of the quarter—"

"I won't do that. Sorry. Make it May thirtieth. And as for those employees whose stock options are underwater, we'll give 'em twelve months to exercise them. And I'm taking a voluntary pay cut myself—to a dollar. How about you, Paul?"

Camilletti smiled nervously. "You get a lot more stock options than I do."

"We're doing this once," Goddard said. "Doing it once and doing it right. I'm not slicing twice."

"Understood," Camilletti said.

"All right," Goddard said with a sigh. "As I'm always telling you, sometimes you just gotta get in the car, get with the program. But first I want to run this by the entire management team, conference in as many of them as we can get together. I also want to get on the horn to our investment bankers. If it flies, as I fear it will, I'll tape a Webcast announcement to the company," Goddard said, "and we'll release it tomorrow, after the close of trading. And make the public announcement at the same time. I don't want a word of this leaking out before then—it's demoralizing."

"If you'd prefer, I'll make the announcement," Camilletti said. "That way you keep your hands clean."

Goddard glared at Camilletti. "I'm not hanging this on you. I refuse. This is my decision—I get the credit, the glory, the magazine covers, and I get the blame too. It's only right."

"I only say it because you've made so many pronouncements in the past. You'll get skewered—"

Goddard shrugged, but he looked miserable. "Now I suppose they're all going to be calling me Chainsaw Goddard or something."

"I think 'Neutron Jock' has a better ring to it," I said, and for the first time, Goddard actually smiled.




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