Friday, May 16, 2008

How many N.J. staff sought buyouts by deadline?

A reader says 5 p.m. ET today was the deadline for employees at five New Jersey newspapers to apply for 166 buyouts offered last week as Gannett's N.J. group struggles with especially sharp circulation declines. "Wonder how many took it," the reader asks. "I know of at least six people out of one paper."

I'll bet lots of people want to know! Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


  1. I think CH lost nearly 50 percent its reporters this week.

  2. Rumor mill says at the Press alone, there was over 100. Lot's of senior staff, of course. And they're planning on selling off the building and moving whoever is left into a shed behind the production plant. Corporate's added value on this? They gave Pub. Donovan a 10% off coupon for Home Depot to buy the shed.

  3. Hahahahahaha...rumor mill.

  4. The exact number probably won't be known anywhere until we come back from Memorial Day and start asking "Where's [insert name here]?"

    What is interesting are the various reasons people have had for taking the buyout. I've had a stream of people coming by my desk or sitting with me in the cafeteria or going out for drinks after work to talk it out and get advice or validation.

    Some were near retirement in less than a year and this is a way for them to get a year's paid vacation before hitting the pension.

    Some took it because they saw no future in their current position, they felt ignored or promoted over or that there would be no rescue from the "rotten position" they were put in during the re-org last September.

    Some, especially those in production, took it because of fear their jobs would be outsourced soon.

    Some took it because they felt that the way the buyout was handled was the last straw.

    Some took it because they were afraid that if they stayed, they would be first out during the "involuntary reductions in staffing."

    So, except for the first reason, most of them took it out of dissatisfaction or fear.

    Someone want to tell me again how Donavan is so different from Collins?

  5. I think Gannett's missing the boat. Every single person I talked to at work who are in their 20s/30s and who have been there 5 or more years would have taken the buyout in a minute had it been offered to them.

    Instead, we hope that enough of our 55-plus co-workers took the lifeboats out so that we're not laid off with absolutely nothing.

    Or as someone said to me, "Their college-age kids can get a job and help out if they can't find another job right away. My 6-year-old can't."

  6. Don't confuse the issue with facts.

    The actuarials down in Virginia can show you any number of charts that show how an employee's efficiency declines after 50. They slow down and are not as productive.

    Also, they expect to get more years from those in their 20s and 30s. (Except that a lot of the young ones come in, stay a year or two to have Gannett on their resume and then move on.)

    And they will also show you the increase medical benefits costs for employees over 50. They also statistically take more sick days.

    If corporations thought they could get away with it, they would likely start "Soylent Green" divisions to handle older employees.

  7. Anon 5/17 2:57 asks: Someone want to tell me again how Donavan is so different from Collins?
    Did you just start at app?
    Under Collins, we would now have 160 people with new jobs - all at lower wages so there would be no raises in the next 10 years. Most at locations as far as possible from where you live. Most would be district manager for circ.

  8. @ 8:31 PM: Don't forget the plain ol' pay differential. For a company whose leaders do not care about the quality of its product, a 30-ish worker at 60% of pay is a much better deal than one at 55 and 100% of pay. If experience is not valued, why pay extra for it?

  9. Donovan is a soldier. Collins had no class whatsoever...a well paid rube.

    Regardless of all of valid comments here...the fact remains that Gannett is still highly profitable. This is all about better margins, and yes, better efficiencies.

    The younger workers will turnover as stated. But, the age argument does not hold up for the corporate staff who likewise have some age on those bones.

    You know the power quote and the absoluteness of power.

    I'd take the buyout and move out of the area...take up cutting bait in the Carolina's...and leave it all behind.

  10. So, to combine ideas from two posts, the APP no longer has "a well paid rube" who would move people into positions where they would be miserable but still have jobs so they'd pull down a salary while looking for work or have a chance to go back to their old department if an opening occurred.

    The result: demoralization, suspicion, paranoia, stress and self-consuming fear.

    (When I worked there, policy at APP was that if you are moved into a new position, they don't change your pay. Does the "lower wages" comment mean that policy was changed?)

    Instead you have "a good soldier" who will just implement impersonal corporate policy without regard to people and efficiency? And do it in a way that shows ultimate disregard for employees as people and treats them as utterly expendable.

    The result: demoralization, suspicion, paranoia, stress and self-consuming fear.

    Yup, they sure are different.

    (If you think the way the buyout was handled was rushed and botched, wait until the next wave of downsizing.)

  11. Big difference. If you want someone to leave, give them a chance to do so on their feet. Keeping them in a job that they don't want, can't do, or goes nowhere isn't the best way to treat them. For employees to stay whole, financially and emotionally, give them a package AND the time that they need. Being stuck as district manager in some warehouse in East Jabip takes a toll emotionally and makes looking for a new job almost impossible. The Collins Credo was never fire them, make them leave and save the company the unemployment.
    Ohh...and by the way; if your wage is frozen, because you were transfered into a job that payed less, you did take a pay cut. Every year prices go up, including the contribution towards your medical benfits. I know, I went thorugh it. And as for policy, that was more of 'guidline'. How you got treated depended on how pissed off Collins was at you.
    I hope someone is looking at a class action here. Lots of young for old coming into view.

  12. So then the whole company has taken a pay cut in the last ten years and more. Raises haven't been based on merit at the press for a long time (if ever...probably about the same time our holiday bonuses disappeared) and they are usually under 3%, which no way keeps pace with inflation.

  13. Sure seems that way. How else can these guys keep sending millions to corporate and feed all those VP's with fat salaries? YOU pay by Gannett not sharing the burden of increases equally. They cut costs and pocket the money. They keep the profit up, and do so on the backs of employees. I have two word for the whole NJ group; "collective bargaining". (I can hear the HR folks scurrying about like a bunch of little Catberts!)

  14. Let's take a vote: I am a YES for Collective Bargaining!

  15. Did somebody mention "class action"? I'm IN!!

  16. I'm all for the class action. I currently have an EEOC complaint lodged and have been trying to find a lawyer to take a discrimination case. I complained to HR and corporate about a hostile work environment, which led to my termination, so as you might guess, I'm not just going to let this one go that easily. The company, Skip, Collins, I'm trying to sue all of them. So anyone who's serious about a class action, please contact me.
    I'll also be sending Jim a copy of my complaint and the company's response (you can imagine how many laughs that will generate) so he can post them here.

  17. You got to wonder a little bit about why there wasn't any exit interviews given to the employees that took the buy outs????

  18. some asshole had the nerve to say Donavan was a "soldier"? what an insult to soldiers...would a soldier be hiding in his office after he sent out the buyout notices? He's been MIA ever since. he's no soldier, he's a punk.

  19. I got a grant from the federal government for $12,000 in financial aid, see how you can get one also at


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.