Non-staff employees at MTV Networks had a meeting with the company's HR department this afternoon. Nearly 200 attended, and the HR person running the meeting said, "If we would've known so many of you were going to show up, we would've ordered lunch to help soften the blow." Lunch or no, it didn't go over so well! "It's a sinking ship. I think we're all fucked," is how one employee put it. Human resources had no plans to discuss any of the changes with their contractors, we're told, but supervising producers demanded the meeting take place. Attaway middlemen, tell 'em!

Permalancers that currently have health benefits will be grandfathered in; they were told that they're "lucky" enough to pay 40% of all their healthcare costs up to $25K, after which they're responsible for the whole shebang. They can also opt for some sort of "catastrophic package," which sounds like something that would have been nice to have lined up, oh, say, last week.

Freelancers, however, are not grandfathered, and will be responsible for 80% of the cost of their healthcare—that is, if they successfully jump through the hoops (1,280 hours!) required to actually qualify down the road. Details were few and far between, and the permapoorlancers don't seem much comforted that a larger meeting is planned for next week with representatives from Viacom and Aetna.

In a classic corporate moment, one intrepid 'lancer was escorted out of a meeting with HR when a staffer tattled to management that he was recording the goings-on on his PDA. Way to stick together, team.

HR demanded that he delete the recording.

Says a Viacom permalancer:

If they are doing this to save money maybe they should rethink the hundreds of millions of dollars in severance packages they have given to the corporate douchebags who have left the company in the past year—we get emails congratulating them and thanking them every few months which is the biggest slap in the face of all. I'm sure the money they are saving in screwing 14,000 people out of their benefits is helping some dickheads who need a few million more to buy another trip around the world.

The meeting ended with a speech from a VH1 person who said that none of the new initiatives were fair. The HR woman said: "It is what it is."