Friday, December 23, 2011

Indy | Employees get $1K bonuses, including union leaders who won't keep them to protest criteria

In a relatively rare event at a time of furloughs and other cost-cutting, The Indianapolis Star has given year-end $1,000 bonuses to at least dozens of rank-and-file employees, local union leaders said yesterday, according to one of my readers.

But the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, in the midst of another fractious round of contract renewal talks that resume next month, is questioning the award criteria. And four of the chapter's leaders who got the bonuses, including President Bobby King, say they won't keep the money because of their concerns.

Crotchfelt
"Normally," they told Guild members in a memo, "this would be a cause to celebrate, and indeed we want to give the Star and Publisher Karen Crotchfelt their due credit for the holiday largess. After pay cuts and furloughs, it's a welcome change. The problem? To borrow from newspaper jargon, it's the who, what, when, where and why of it all that has raised a few questions."

It's unclear how many staffers got the awards, which the Guild says were distributed last week in not-so-discrete envelopes. The Guild estimates they went to about 25% of its members, which total 125 paper-wide. All but 13 are in the newsroom, King told me in an e-mail.

"From what we’ve been able to gather," the memo says, "supervisors were asked to nominate people for the bonuses and a management committee chose the recipients. Crotchfelt and Editor Dennis Ryerson handed out the notices last week, and in some cases, made calls to staffers who were off. The envelopes were distributed somewhat conspicuously in the middle of the newsroom. In at least one instance, a staffer was handed an envelope and told aloud -- within earshot of others who didn’t receive it -- that the envelope contained word about a $1,000 bonus."

I've posted the memo's full text here.

A time of payroll cuts
The bonuses arrived only a month after Gannett announced mandatory one-week furloughs for most employees in the U.S. community newspaper division, which includes the Star. Gannett Bloggers, meanwhile, have been speculating about another round of layoffs, possibly as soon as next month, as GCI's overall revenue continues to fall in the current quarter.

In Indianapolis since August, the Guild has been staging a noisy "Save the Star" campaign urging readers to protest earlier staff cutbacks and plans to move jobs to one of the five News Design Studio hubs that are to design and produce virtually all GCI's 81 U.S. community dailies.

The Guild has been more aggressive under King, who was elected in March.

Related: Indianapolis Monthly magazine's September profile of King.

61 comments:

  1. Sounds like the publisher and editor could learn a thing or two about leadership from the Guild officers.

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  2. Crotchfelt and Ryerson should try their hands at script writing for Glee. Looks like they know quite a bit about creating high-school like cliques.

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  3. Great way to create discord in the newsroom. And wonder what folks in advertising and marketing who are facing furloughs next year think. Is this what they're teaching in Gannett "leadership" training classes.

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  4. Clearly Star management doesn't believe in the leadership rule of team before the individual.

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  5. Wow...

    What a bunch of pansies. I've been on every side of this issue (both in management and the rank-and-file side) - and no matter what...no one wins.

    When management decides to award bonuses to employees - it should be looked at as a wonderful expression of their gratitude to employees.

    Instead - it is looked at as a missed entitlement by a bunch of whiny assed losers who didn't get the bonuses.

    Here's the trick - work harder, morons. Work well, do you job well, quit hiding behind the work of others - and maybe, just maybe, next time you'll be the one getting the envelope.

    It's called hard work. Hard work gets rewarded. I agree, it usually doesn't get rewarded at Gannett, but hey, there's a first time for everything.

    Kudos to Crotchfeeler and her team for rewarding employees. When things get tough, management usually forgets that you still need to reward the best to keep them moving and give the rest something to achieve.

    Stop bellyaching that you didn't get the money - be happy that someone did - and get back to work you ungrateful idiots.

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  6. Excuse me, Anonymous 2:14, but did you even read the Guild's memo? "Whiny assed losers"? Hardly Four officers in the Guild DID get the bonuses. They are not whining. The officers have decided to donate their bonuses to a pool of needy staffers.

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  7. 2:14 Great post. If you had a clue as to what you were talking about.

    You know nothing about the employees who were given bonuses, and nothing about those who weren't.

    Certainly there were some very deserving people who were awarded. For the most part, though, this was a popularity contest. Why don't you ask the sports copy editor who got a bonus why he did and the guy next to him did not. Guaranteed his answer is "I don't know."

    If "hard work gets rewarded" then everyone should have shared in the bonus pool. As everyone is working harder after repeated cuts to staff.

    Looks like you're the only moron here.

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  8. Let's see whiners don't get bonuses, folks who do great work and reflect positive values get bonuses. I like it and I understand it. Next year they can exclude union employees who don't want the money. Plus here is the thing, Gannett isn't going to pay the money to someone else. If the Guild officers want to give the money to someone else they still have to pay the taxes.

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  9. 2:14 It's the Guild leadership's responsibility to make sure that working conditions, including benefits, are equitable. This isn't whining; it's doing their job.

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  10. The Indianapolis Star “BonusGate” highlights the lack of maturity and judgment of the Star leaders. What an indefensible PR nightmare for Crotchfelt. Perhaps the Star leaders should stay after work today and study the core values. Kudos to the guild leadership.

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  12. 3:17 I think bonuses are a fine idea when they're merit-based.

    The mistake here -- which unfortunately clouds an otherwise nice step -- was in reportedly distributing them in such a public fashion.

    I received one bonus during my Gannett years -- $3,500, an amount equal to nearly 9% of my annual pay -- when I was at The Arkansas Gazette. But the editor gave it to me privately in his office, rather than at my desk.

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  13. Leave it to Gannett management to screw up a goodwill gesture.

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  14. 3:22 i'll be glad to debate you on the subject when you arm yourself with something other than ignorance. facts would be great. try to gather some and then report back.

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  15. Either the public distribution of the bonuses was done intentionally by upper management to show they are in charge and to put people in their place or they’re incredibly stupid.

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  16. Coffee is for closers.

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  17. The real question is, does the Guild contract allow for the paying of individual bonuses?

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  18. Following is an edited version of 3:22's comment:

    First, I miight be the only moron here....but I am the only one who is right. There isn't and never has been anything equitable about BONUSES you crazies.

    I get what the guild leaders did...whatever. The guild is bullsh** anyway....talk about a popularity contest.

    Wake up to the real world. What [Crotchfelt} did was wonderful. Take it for what it was and stop beeing so subverted in your view of management. In fact, just think....if you weren't so critical of management and suupported them well and also did your job well....oh wait that'll never happen

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  19. 3:38 My money is on stupid. But no doubt Crotchfelt, Ryerson and the rest of the managers involved are patting themselves on the back while not realizing how incredibly tone deaf they are.

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  20. New Gannett management class: High School 101.

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  21. 2:58 Jim, what a silly post. You really make a big deal out of nothing. This string is against giving bonuses. Only a union would protest their membership receiving money. Who gives a flying flop about criteria? The award reflects individual performance reflecting a new set of values the site has established. It's not brain surgery. The only people giving the money back are the union heads because they are worried about looking like they were on the take when they sign their next contract.

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  22. 4:54 pm You must be a part of the management team who orchestrated this debacle, no doubt. And what is the new set of values the site has established?

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  23. @2:14 Whiny-ass, no-bonus loser moron here. Tell me something you know about me. Tell me about the job I do. I await your reply with bated breath, all-knowing one.

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  24. 4:54 wrote: "This string is against giving bonuses."

    What do you mean? Most/all posters here oppose the bonuses?

    You also question the criteria argument, then write: "The award reflects individual performance reflecting a new set of values the site has established."

    Isn't that, in fact, criteria?

    Also, how do you know this is a "new set of values?" Do you work there?

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  25. 4:54 please point out the facts that support that the union protests its membership receiving money. also, please tell me more about the performance of the sports copy editor who received a bonus and the features copy editor who didn't.

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  26. 2:05pm I hope management also ignores the "pass along what you know" rule of leadership. Apparently that's not a whole lot.

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  27. Only union members would complain about receiving money. Truly unbelievable. Keep paying dues because that's what I call representing your best interests.

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  28. So why doesn't everyone give the bonuses back if it is such a problem. An effort to reward performance ruined but the thought everyone is equal. Well everyone is not equal so get over it. How about next time everyone get 5 bucks.. The guild way.

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  30. The union exists to protect poor performers so it goes against their credo to see any high performing member recognized. It really is simple. Plus the union didn't get their cut so they are really upset.

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  31. Karen Crotchfelt. Good job. You tried to make a difference and some are too dug into misery to realize it. The star has been a place of oppression long before you arrived and some people like it that way and will fight you every step f the way to make a change. Don't be disappointed in this behavior they wouldn't know a good thing if it followed them home.

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  32. If the Guild leadership kept the bonuses, it would drive a wedge between them and the other members. Isn't that what management wants?

    In fact, the bonuses to any member seem to be meant to isolate them from the group. Why else would they have been handed out publicly? Christmas bonuses are usually for all members, and if not they are handled privately.

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  33. I have deserving friends who got a bonus. And I have other friends who are on unemployment. One does make up for the other.

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  34. 5:22 You sound like many others here who simply don't know what they're talking about. I assure you there are many folks who got bonuses who would say "why me?" If this was really about performance no one would be complaining (well, ok, maybe not). As the note from Bobby King stated, it's about the who, what, where, when and why. You're absolutely delusional if you think this was strictly about "performance."

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  35. Were any other departments at the Indy Star included in the bonus festivities or was this celebration just for the information center?

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  36. 5:26 -- Please stop and review the facts.

    "The union didn't get their cut"? Four union officers got bonuses, which they are donating.

    "It goes against their credo to see any high performers recognized." Explain. The union officers are award-winning journalists, and so are many in the membership.

    "The union exists to reward poor performers." This statement is idiotic on its face. The union exists to see that its members get a fair contract.

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  37. Haters gonna hate.

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  38. Following is 5:24's edited comment:

    Nice to get a bonus, how ever after raking furloughs the last 3 tears and no pay raises, why was The Lafayette paper not included in this program. From what I understand out numbers are great, were making money..but who got the bonus,the OC members, the Publisher who is in charge of nothing anymore sense we went to GPS division and I'm sure his executive assistance. So we just keep working harder with no reward, just paycuts and furloughs. I would like to call out the Publisher of the Journal and Courier and the Operations Manager who know works for GPS, these 2 guys are like machines with no feelings for their employees.

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  39. Looks like a member of the management team joined the discussion at 5:26. Thanks for playing.

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  40. There are three different posts with the time of 5:26 p.m.

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  41. 5:41 spoken as a true card carrying union member. Your bias is so obvious. The union, not the union leaders, didn't get their cut. The union doesn't care about anything but generating dues. You can't dispute that.

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  42. 5:41 used logic. You, 6:37, make unsupported statements. Must be a member of the Star leadership team.

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  43. I'm a Star employee and I find this entire event disgusting. Nice to know that our upcoming furloughs will help pay for these bonuses. Obviously, Crotchfelt thinks 75% of employees should support the other 25% ass kissers. This was nothing more than a high school popularity contest with teacher's pets rewarded

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  44. Take your money and run, may be the last time such a deal is on the table. You should feel blessed to get a nice junk of change

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  45. I can't start to tell you how tone-deaf and mean the editor and publisher are. Dysfunctional and pathetic.

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  46. Unbelievable. As a former Star staffer, I completely believe this was a tactic intended to create dissent and divide Guild members in the middle of soulless negotiating by Gannett on a new contract.

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  47. It also has the feel of bribery, given those negotiations and how the bonuses were distributed.

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  48. 8:20 and 8:21 Absolutely. Was the bonus program company-wide or for the information center only?

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  49. You people are pitiful. I have had one bonus over a long run as a gannettoid. It was a surprise and much more than i would have ever expected, given the type of clueless, tone deaf managers I've been around.

    Argue all you want about who deserved what and how it was doled out. I hope it was merit based and fair. Just take whatever crumbs this company gives you and don't begrudge others who get more than you.

    Can we just move on? It's the holidays. Stop getting upset at the bs this company perpetuates, at least for a few days. Go for a walk. Play with the kids or the dog.

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  50. 8:20 and 8:21 are perfect representatives of the union mentality. It must be a conspiracy. It must be tough to live a life where you hate your employer and see every move as evil. Yet none of you leave. Very confusing.

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  51. I have to laugh. People who get bonuses are ass kissers. Yea right. That's it. Just giving bonuses to people they like. What a crock of crapola. More likely bonuses when to individuals who go the extra mile and consistently do a good job. And the rest of the room hates them for working hard. Why not do the minimum and just get by.

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  52. 7:27, sounds EXACTLY like USA Today.

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  53. 9:00 How did you come to those conclusions? Bully the messenger when they tell you what you don't want to hear.

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  54. 9:00 is probably a union leader where the mantra is "less is more and less equals more people which equals more dues."

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  57. God bless the Star. It leads the league in whiny ass employees. Seventy percent of them come to work (when they don't call in sick) convinced The Man is out to get them. You walk in the building and are greeted with ridiculous red cards on desks announcing management sucks, why give 100 percent when The Man's only paying me 90 percent, or whatever their catchy slogan is that week. Never worked anywhere like that place, but also never worked in a union situation until there. It's no surprise they hate this bonus plan, question the motives. Those people are not happy unless they are whining about something. I know layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs suck. I took them too. But it sure beats what happened to my friends in Denver. You can't tell them that, though. They'd much rather huddle up and complain. I admire the guys like Bobby King, who lead the fight but still produce quality work. Unfortunately, the vast majority aren't concerned about the work, only the whining. I saw it every day. Had to get out of there to save my sanity.

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  58. "The vast majority" of Star employees "aren't concerned about the work, only the whining." Oh really? Then how do you explain their journalism awards for coverage of everything from school reform to utility corruption? And from sports to photos to graphics?

    Yes, they are digging in for a fight. Gannett has been screwing them for a long time. This fight is overdue. If you can't understand and support it, we're glad you're somewhere else.

    And if you think the Save the Star campaign is evidence of "whiny ass employees," just look around. The New York Times guild just started a Save our Times campaign, fighting the same corporate greed.

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  59. Yeah, 10:06, journalism awards. Those prove your point. (eyes roll)

    The Guild in Indy had its thumb up its butt for way too long. The move to the design hub finally opened their eyes, but it's way too late.

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  60. They win all the journalism awards in their state because they have almost NO competition for the awards, that is why.

    It's all a circulation thing.

    The same thing in many other states with "awards". The circulations of the Gannett papers have plunged so badly that they are competing with tiny little mom and pop papers now.

    Funny thing is, in a year or so, those little "mom and pop" paspers will be kicking the butts of the Gannett papers and the awards will dry up as the poor quality of Gannett papers begins to show...

    We are starting to see that in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana already.

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  61. If you don't like working for Gannett, then go somewhere else to bitch and whine. I don't know you nor do I want to know you. From what you write here I get the impression you feel 'entitled' to something; and I'm not sure why; oh yes, you went to work each day. Clap, clap, clap!

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