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If you received a severance or golden parachute...
Old 04-26-2012, 02:29 PM   #1
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If you received a severance or golden parachute...

In a spin off from a post in the "You're lucky you're able to retire" thread...


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Originally Posted by brett View Post
< snip >
The third was being ready, able, and extremely willing (with a lawyer lined up to represent me) when my employer of 25 years gave me a golden handshake.
< snip >
I'm curious how many folks negotiated a better handshake/package on their way out the door.

I've read articles that you should always ask for more. It can't hurt. But I'm wondering the process and success rate of this.

I hired on with megacorp A 17 years ago. Megacorp A split into 3, changed names, then changed names back to Megacorp A. Megacorp A was acquired by Megacorp B about 12 years ago. Last year Megacorp B was split into two - let's call the half I work for Megacorp C. And now megacorp C is being acquired by Megacorp D. Any day now... And the WSJ reports that Megacorp D is shopping my division out (even though they don't own us yet) to private equity firms.

Each of these transactions resulted in an overall downgrade of benefits, and most importantly, a new, less favorable, severance policy. It also resulted in a frozen DB pension from Megacorp A, and a frozen "Portable" Pension from Megacorp B (that is currently underfunded so not portable at all.)

I expect layoffs when the latest deal happens. My worry is that the severance policy will be wiped out - and I'd like to ask for more than the existing policy - especially the extension of health benefits.

Brett mentions having a lawyer lined up. I'm curious about this - was it effective?

Has anyone else negotiated for a better deal? Did you use a lawyer?

I'm not an exec... just a cube dwelling engineer. No C-suite packages will be coming my way.

Any advice?

If I get laid off - that will determine my ER date. If not - I'll hold out another 18-24 months (which Firecalc gives me 100% odds with those numbers.)
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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Alas, I've had the "pleasure" twice. Both times I got a better severance package than the intial offer. One I negotiated myself. The second time I retained an attorney because the circumstances were much different (including of course, legal issues).
Getting the attorney for that second situation was definitely worth it.
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #3
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My whole division was shut down. Didn't seem like much of an opportunity for negotiating. The terms were sparser than what I'd heard about years before, but I don't think things are getting any better now. I was just happy that it coincided with being FI and ready to retire anyway.
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:57 PM   #4
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mystang52 - How did you go about opening the negotiations? did you just talk to the HR rep that was presenting your package? or did you go to the top person?
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:03 PM   #5
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Most of the people who I have heard get any better package were higher up in management....

Being a cube dweller, I think you get what is offered or nothing... those were the choices I was given... and I do not think a lawyer would have helped as I work in a right to work state and they do not need any reason to fire you...
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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The MegaCorp I toiled at until 2006 has had 10,000's of layoffs. The severance package started (max amount with enough seniority) at 2yrs pay + 2 yrs health insurance. Then it was reduced to 1 yr each. Then to 6 months. I've heard it's even less now, but have lost touch and I'm not sure.

I never heard of anyone challenging the then current package and doing better in terms of money or benefits. (Obviously, settlement might have included a confidentiality agreement and therefore I wouldn't know.) I am aware of several cases where an exception to qualifying rules was made for an individual. For example, it took 75 points (age + seniority) to qualify for retiree health benefits. Two different friends were only months short of this benchmark and were granted an exception.

I think that where severance packages are relatively generous, 10,000's are accepting them and the company is on top of its game in regard to the usual discrimination issues and state/fed laws, they're tough to challenge. Perhaps in cases where severance packages are custom designed for each "victim," it's more likely the company would feel compelled to negotiate.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:06 PM   #7
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After 33 years, my parachute wasn't gold...it was "double-platinum"!

The new regime coming in at Megacorp wanted me out so badly they gave me everything I asked for...and more! Terrified I'd file some lawsuit (or find a way to stay and spoil their partay)!

Really.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:28 PM   #8
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Rodi - I sent you a PM
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:21 AM   #9
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When our contract was shut down only 3 of 17 took the package. All others found jjjjobs.

My boss negotiated with his VP to stay on until Jan 3 (3 months longer) so he could get the 3% annual pension hike. As part of the aggreement he aggreed NOT to collect unemployment.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:20 AM   #10
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I didn't get anything.

I can remember sitting at my desk in 1998, ready to pick up a phone and call a head-hunter because I was expecting to be "down-sized". Then I picked up my inter-office mail with a memo that said "With our recent staff changes, we thought we should tell you about our severance package .... 3 weeks pay for every year of service...."

I had 17 years in, that meant a year of severance pay. I decided to wait for the ax to fall instead of leaving early (maybe I should have raised my hand...). But it never did. I ended up retiring the non-subsidized way.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:56 AM   #11
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3 weeks per year is good.
Under the severance plan we had in the 90's that's close to what I'd qualify for. It was 8 weeks plus 2 weeks per year. I'd get 42 weeks if that plan were still in place.
Then the changed it to 8 weeks plus 1 week per year.... I'd qualify for 25 weeks under that plan.
Then they got rid of the 8 week adder... it's now 1 week per year. So I'd qualify for 17 weeks.
I'm worried it will be cut to zero - like my BILs company. Especially if we get sold off to a private equity firm by our soon to be new corporate overlords.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:04 AM   #12
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Best I was able to do was to volunteer to get RIFed instead of retiring on my own time. It got me out the door two years earlier than I would have qualified for without the package, with 75% of my annual salary as a severence. If I'd just retired I'd have gotten nothing but a free lunch. Plus I had the moral victory of saving one of my cow erkers jobs for almost 7 months before they got him on the next RIF. Oh well, you do what you can.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rodi View Post
3 weeks per year is good.
Under the severance plan we had in the 90's that's close to what I'd qualify for. It was 8 weeks plus 2 weeks per year. I'd get 42 weeks if that plan were still in place.
Then the changed it to 8 weeks plus 1 week per year.... I'd qualify for 25 weeks under that plan.
Then they got rid of the 8 week adder... it's now 1 week per year. So I'd qualify for 17 weeks.
I'm worried it will be cut to zero - like my BILs company. Especially if we get sold off to a private equity firm by our soon to be new corporate overlords.
Same here. Continuing the story, the next year I got a memo that said they had revised the policy to 2 weeks/yr. So, if they had fired me, I would have lost 17 weeks of severance by working that year.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:22 PM   #14
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wow (3 weeks/year) .... I did 20 years ... got 12 weeks.

Our severence was butchered by a new regime ... so knowing our contract expired 1 Oct , I told my group to find jobs at the start of the year. My boss was pissed when people started hitting the door ... but , hey, what are they gonna do .... lay me off!?!? THEY killed the incentive to stick around.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:40 PM   #15
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My Oh My! Some folks certainly got a very nice deal to retire.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:13 PM   #16
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My mega-org currently gives 1 mo/year of service up to 24. They have woken up to the fact that this is a sweet deal. It's no longer on offer to people over 58, who would, if they spent their payoff linearly until age 65, combined with their final-salary, COLAed pension, typically get a raise out of the whole package. I fully expect this offer to be substantially amended - not in a good way - over the next 2-3 years. That's why I'm getting out in 15 (count 'em) days.
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:46 AM   #17
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That's why I'm getting out in 15 (count 'em) days.
Congrats, BigNick! Where's the party?

Regarding the OP, my Megacorp had at least 3 "packages" during my tenure. I wasn't eligible for any of them. Several folks attempted to negotiate (e.g., one guy was just a few days short of the required points and asked to be waivered into the package.) Megacorp made NO concessions to anyone. It was the package as stated, or take your chances by staying on. Other packages were structured along the lines of "you have 12 weeks to find a new assignment within Megacorp. After that, here is what we will give you as you walk out the door."

A fourth "package" was one you don't want to be offered. Essentially, without any positive incentive, or even suggesting any one retire or otherwise separate from Megacorp, the "rules" were changed for retiree medical and pension, etc. - quite unfavorably. The "package" aspect was that, by leaving before the effective date of the negative changes, one was grandfathered under the "old" rules. Talk about adding injury to insult! I left before the "final insult" so was automatically grandfathered (without knowing it). My old work group is all gone now - either reassigned, terminated, retired, absorbed by a new Megacorp, etc. So, when I retired, I got a "great package" and didn't even know it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:41 PM   #18
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I think the big one's a-comin...

In my mega-corp I think they just say who wants to go, and work out something with you if they like you. This is aimed at getting you to retire early, without saying there are ER packages officially. I don't profess to be a retirement expert, but I think I am SOL since I have only 6 years in.

Watching this again, as I was part of a major downsizing in the mid 90's at a megacorp which produced a well-known brand of butt wipe. Jeez that place emptied out fast!
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:32 PM   #19
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I was in the right place at the right time. Megacorp was downsizing and wanting to get rid of 20k salaried people. They had to actually eliminate your job to be eligible for the early retirement and buyout. I talked my boss into asking me since our project was going to be complete within the year. He made me promise to stay until the project was complete, but I still got to leave 5 months early as the project was in it's final stage. I left at 51 years of age and 34 years of service for a total of 85 points which is what you needed if you were under 62 years of age. So I got the same as if I were 62 plus I got two years salary as an incentive. Also, they paid me social security until I turned 62 at which time they took away the social security supplement. Plus health care until I turned 65 and picked up Medicare. The parachute allowed me to pay off all debt. What a deal. I call that a golden parachute.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:26 PM   #20
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I was in the right place at the right time. Megacorp was downsizing and wanting to get rid of 20k salaried people. They had to actually eliminate your job to be eligible for the early retirement and buyout. I talked my boss into asking me since our project was going to be complete within the year. He made me promise to stay until the project was complete, but I still got to leave 5 months early as the project was in it's final stage. I left at 51 years of age and 34 years of service for a total of 85 points which is what you needed if you were under 62 years of age. So I got the same as if I were 62 plus I got two years salary as an incentive. Also, they paid me social security until I turned 62 at which time they took away the social security supplement. Plus health care until I turned 65 and picked up Medicare. The parachute allowed me to pay off all debt. What a deal. I call that a golden parachute.
That is truly "golden". I'm wondering if packages like that are still around.
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