|At Gannett, VIP stands for very important perquisites.|
As Gannett ratchets up the cost of health insurance for regular workers, it pays for generous extra medical benefits for the most senior executives and their families during and after employment -- and in some cases, even after they die, company documents show.
That's hardly surprising. Across Corporate America, executives get all manner of platinum perquisites once they're promoted to the sunniest corner offices. But they're controversial because many corporate governance experts say seven-figure paychecks ought to be enough.
As at other companies, Gannett's board of directors argues these perqs are more than necessary. In company documents, the board says they "help minimize distractions from important initiatives" and "attract and retain the best management talent."
Here's a rundown of the executives' benefits, according to annual proxy statements to shareholders.
Cash for mortgages
Gannett pays for supplemental medical coverage for at least CEO Gracia Martore, newspaper division President Bob Dickey, and broadcasting President Dave Lougee.
How much does supplemental care cost the company? It's not detailed, but instead is lumped into a category called "other compensation." That also includes costly life insurance premiums and such extra perqs as personal use of the company jet. Last year, other compensation totaled $117,283 for Martore; $125,612 for Dickey, and $131,030 for Lougee. (This table shows total pay last year.)
Supplemental continues after retirement, when it also extends to covering family members. The reports doesn't say how long the benefit lasts, suggesting it's at least as long as the executive is alive.
And if they keel over at their Crystal Palace desk? Family dependents not only continue to get regular medical coverage, but also the supplemental coverage for the rest of their lives. That supplemental insurance costs the company about $10,000 a year.
Top executives swing these benefits thanks to an entire industry of lawyers and other financial consultants who are experts in brass-knuckle negotiating.
Paying to pay even more
And in one of the ultimate perqs, Corporate provides legal and financial advice at company expense. In other words, the company pays attorneys who can help executives wrangle these very benefits.
The report doesn't say how much that expert advice costs the company. But the 2012 proxy report suggests it's worth as much as $25,000 a year, in a section detailing former CEO Craig Dubow's post-retirement bennies.
Earlier: Tell us how much more you'll pay next year for medical coverage.
Related: Here's the company's FAQ about the new employee health insurance plans. And here's a document showing examples of how the plan will work for individuals and families. They are stored on Google Docs, where you can download copies anonymously at no cost.