Sunday, November 06, 2011

Oct. 31-Nov. 6 | Your News & Comments: Part 4

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  2. Phoenix, my boss not that MY BOSS but the guy over us stated Friday that yes indeed furloughs are coming to Phoenix. He does not know if all or the 50k and above club will be included.

    Question since they shut down the printing plant in Chandler and Deer Valley took over printing of:
    USA Today, comics, insert jackets, Deer Vally (Phoenix) must be making them a shit pot full of money. WHAT ARE THEY DOING WITH IT ALL. NOT GIVING RAISES TO US THAT FOR SURE.

  3. What an awful corporate culture this company has. People scratch, claw, and kiss-up in the farm system in hopes of gaining a rung on the corporate ladder so that they can do busy work for a few more years and get paid more than they're worth. A meritocracy this is not!

  4. Regarding the guaranty of pensions, this is direct from the Summary Program Description:

    Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
    Your pension benefits under this Plan are insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal insurance agency. If the Plan terminates (ends) without enough money to pay all benefits, the PBGC will step in to pay pension benefits. Most people receive all of the pension benefits they would have received under their plan, but some people may lose certain benefits.

    The PBGC guarantee generally covers:

    • normal and early retirement benefits,
    • disability benefits if you become disabled before the Plan terminates, and
    • certain benefits for your survivors.

    The PBGC guarantee generally does not cover:

    • benefits greater than the maximum guaranteed amount set by law for the year in which the Plan terminates,
    • some or all of the benefit increases and new benefits based on Plan provisions that have been in place for fewer than five years at the time the Plan terminates,
    • benefits that are not vested because you have not worked long enough for the Company,
    • payment of lump sums in excess of $5,000,
    • benefits for which you have not met all of the requirements at the time the Plan terminates,
    • certain early retirement payments (such as supplemental benefits that stop when you become eligible for Social Security) that result in an early retirement monthly benefit greater than your monthly benefit at the Plan’s normal retirement age, and
    • non-pension benefits, such as health insurance, life
    insurance, certain death benefits, vacation pay, and
    severance pay.

    Even if a portion of your benefits are not guaranteed, you still may receive some of those benefits from the PBGC, depending on how much money the Plan has and on how much the PBGC collects from employers.

    For more information about the PBGC and the benefits it guarantees, contact the PBGC’s Technical Assistance Division, 1200 K Street NW, Suite 930, Washington D.C. 20005-4026 or call 202.326.4000 (not a toll-free number). TTY/TDD users may call the federal relay service toll-free at 800.877.8339 and ask to be connected to 202.326.4000. Additional information about the PBGC’s pension insurance program is available through the PBGC’s Web site on the Internet at

  5. Oh, and I have a full copy of the SPD which I provided Jim a while back.

  6. 5:25, thanks for a highly informative post. Wow. From this I read that a monthly payment is generally guaranteed, but a lump sum greater than $5K is not guaranteed.

    In my scenario in terms of a lump sum, only 8% of the pension I, some loyal employee, earned for all these years is available as such if/when the pension tanks, with a full 92% being paid out in chump change. Why am I not surprised?

  7. The sheet I saw is the plan it nearly fully funded and I think Jim reported they made 30 million deposit this year. Since that money can only be used fir pensions I'd think it's pretty safe.

  8. Is the pension funded in terms of cash or is a balance sheet liability. If it is only balance sheet then if the cash flow is gone it doesn't matter.

  9. Ha ha. Funny to see a USA TODAY ad stripped across the top of the Gannett Blog.

    Support Jim's advertisers!

  10. It has to be non touchable cash.

  11. Before I left Gannett, they had to start sending out annual pension funding notices to everyone that detailed the current plan funding. It's now an ERISA (the law that governs pension plans) requirement. I probably have mine from last year hanging around here somewhere. If you are still an active employee, you should get another one email. If not, I'll try to find mine from last year and pass it along to Jim for posting.

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  13. Thanks, 9:34.

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  16. I got laid off one year ago and have not checked in here since; I'm taking a look today out of curiosity to see if morale is as dreadful as it was then. Sounds like it's worse than ever, so I want to try to instill a small ray of hope. I was a middle manager in news at a mid-size paper. The first eight or so were pretty good; I worked with a great team of reporters and editors, and my supervisor seemed bright enough to realize he/she'd been fast-tracked to the point where he/she was way over his/her head and largely left us alone because we did good work that made him/her look smart. Then the bloodbaths started, and got progressively worse with each round. In what seemed a desperate and transparent effort to prove his/her relevance and save his/her own skin, he/she out of the blue started micromanaging the newsroom and aggressively pushing each new corporate initiative as if they actually had some merit to them, at the expense of covering real news. The job became pure hell, as our priorities were turned upside down, and I knew my days were numbered as I was not among the inner circle of Kool Aid drinkers, so I was prepared when the ax fell, emotionally and financially, as best I could. It was scary but also a relief, even though I have a family to help support and the economy was in the toilet, where it remains. But I dedicated myself to a job search and with the help of some old friends got a few offers and was able to land a great position within a couple months doing the work I love to do. My point, former colleagues, and I'm sure it's been made before, is that there is life after Gannett. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. If you are not exploring your options yet, start doing so now. Get rid of any debt you can. Save what you can. "Simplify, simplify, simplify," as the man said. And don't forget what's really important in your lives: your family and your friends. Good luck!

  17. Clawback CD's ill-gotten gains!

  18. Regarding Gannett's largest pension plan -- the fund that benefits most current and future retirees:

    Gannett provides some information about the plan's financial health in its annual report to shareholders. The most recent report is for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010.

    First, it's important to know that the pension is a fund that's separate from the rest of Gannett. It is composed of a mix of investments: stocks, bonds, cash, etc. Just like a mutual fund, the value of the fund rises and falls with the overall stock market.

    The 2010 report shows that the pension is underfunded by $346 million. In other words, if Gannett had to pay out all its pension benefits at once, today, it would come up $346 million short.

    That might sound scary, but it's actually an improvement over 2008, when the pension was underfunded by about $530 million -- and the company was in far worse financial shape. 2008 was the year that the stock market really tanked as the Great Recession took hold.

    Gannet isn't alone in its pension funding. Most company pension plans in the United States are underfunded, although the degree of underfunding varies by company.

    We will see the next annual report, with more current pension funding information as of the end of this year, when that report is published in February 2012.

  19. Good for you, 11:42.

    I think it's just mindboggling how badly Gannett has blown it over the last (insert length of time that CD reigned) years. Honestly, what possible hope would any recruiter have for the company? In its short-term 'cut at all cost' mindset all this time, how can the company ever expect to serve again as a place where good talent WANTS to work? The cost savings served the company bottom line for a quarter here and a quarter there. (Like a temporary fix for a junkie.) But the damage has been done and can't be undone -- and that's for the long haul.

  20. Good?
    "Better done than good!"

  21. Jim, I think your characterization of the pension plan is close. I think the funding benchmark is having the assets on hand to be able to service known liabilities -- now and into the future -- given the projected growth rate of the assets. That last part is obviously the key -- you might check into how aggressively Gannett is projecting growth relative to other pension funds.

  22. Craig's legacy (other than his multiple million $$$ goodbye courtesy of the board) is building a strong management team. Undoubtedly, this top flight crew will turn things around.

    Gracia will attempt to ensure her own legacy fleecing the company will trying to break Craig's record of laying off 20,000 employees.

  23. Your thinking that Dubow was responsible for the laying off of 20,000+, 9:29, is incorrect: that was Martore's doing, and it will continue.

  24. Okay I guess your are correct 7:31. It very complex though, and easy to say one thing without understanding the ramifications. I mean, for instance, what would have happened if there were not 20,000 layoffs (by the way, how many were layoffs and not merely people leaving. If layoffs, the severance number would have been way, way higher). Would the company be in great shape, or bankrupt? I just wonder. I meam, cutting employees cuts costs, which allows pension to have big amount added to it (see above). It would mean paying down debt of the 90s. And so forth. So I am just asking about the argument...cut 20000 people. Do they just cut for what, a measly bonus they could get anywhere? Or are they attempting to change the company into something else? When I left we didn't have much in digital, but now there is a large division. I don't know how it's doing, but it seems like that was a good thing. I have moved on, but I care about the old haunting grounds in Cocoa.

  25. 8:04, your thoughts are logical and understandable. I believe what 7:31 wanted to clarify is that the inner workings of the cuts were initiated and brought about by Martore, not Dubow, yet so many on this site continue to point the finger at him for the responsibility. Dubow and other management took marching orders from Martore.

  26. "Simplify, simplify." Henry David Thoreau

    Save your money.

  27. 8:04, I too tend to think the layoffs were necessary. My issues with layoffs are related to how they were done, the severance packages and the way corporate executives were rewarded for firing people.

    It's clear that our newspapers are facing challenges. It's clear that papers less newshole than ever. Less newshole equals smaller staffs. Okay, I understand that. What I don't understand is how Gannett, a still profitable company, can be so heartless that they lay people off using the Transitional Pay program, forcing taxpayers to pickup the tab and essentially subsidize the company.

    Other large media companies gave ex-employees the traditional 2 weeks of pay per year of service. Gannett? One week of TPP for year of service. That's wrong.

    Then the company turned around and gave large bonuses and pay raises to Dubow, Martore et al. If things are so bad, they should forego their bonuses and raises first, before cuts are implemented. They should never be rewarded for destroying people's lives.

    The final blow came when Dubow "retired" with his $37 million (may be as low as $15 million depends on how the math is done - my heart cries for him) package. 1) Dubow should not have been allowed to retire. He should have been fired. 2) He deserves no bonus or retirement. The same applies to Martore. She should have been fired not promoted.

    The way the company has treated the ranking executives in the Crystal Palace tells you all you need to know about Gannett. I say a pox on their house. This company doesn't deserve to survive.

  28. Remember.....
    There was profit being made during these layoff rounds/years.
    Layoffs were not made to keep the corporation from bankrupcy.They were made to increase the profit margin.
    Don't try to defend the coldness and uncaring management decisions of Gannett.
    Every corporation needs profit,but slash top bonuses and the bottom looks better probably without layoffs or at least fewer.
    Chances are there,if past precident is followed,there will be holiday layoffs again and the profit mongers continue to prosper.

  29. 8:59, there is plenty of blame to go around. Every person involved at the CP should take responsibility because nobody had the courage to stand up and say, "This isn't right."

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  31. 12:56--there's not a soul in Crystal Palace management who has the guts to stand up against Martore. They kiss her feet and the ground she walks on. She knows it too.

  32. Everyone there is frightened for their jobs. This ain't Norma Ray, OK?


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