Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blog: 'Rolls Royce health-care lives on at Gannett'

From a post today on Footnoted, the website started by former Poughkeepsie Journal reporter Michelle Leder:

Gannett is closing its Supplemental Executive Medical Plan to top executives hired after Dec. 31, according to the new 10-K filing made yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. For those grandfathered in, it's a sweet deal -- especially at a time when thousands of employees are losing their jobs, and the health insurance coverage they once had. Footnoted describes the executive plan this way:

"Participants get all the usual health-care benefits Gannett offers, naturally, but they also get as much as another $750,000 a year to cover whatever the regular plans don’t. Of course, that sum also has to cover dependents,  a group that 'will include parents and parents-in-law if they are legal dependents for Internal Revenue Service purposes. . . .' Presumably the plan was a nice comfort for CEO Craig Dubow when he was out in June 2009 for back surgery."



    At least that's what the GOP keeps whining about, as they continually squash the middle class.

    Frankly, I wish there was more shouting about Dubow and people of his ilk. Maybe the rest of America would get angry enough to shame them into giving more for us lowly workers who keep getting the shaft.

  2. About every week, there is some new insult to us posted on this blog. This is one of them. No wonder our health care program sucks because corporate has carved out a special deal for the executives, and doesn't really care what regular employees have to deal with. I thought there were federal laws forbidding this, but I guess I thought wrong.

  3. I started to agree with 12:34 but then I noticed you aren't really "one of us". Health care benefits, merit increases, compensation plans, etc. are all part of what comes with greater responsiblity. Tough decisions must be made at every company in every industry. More risk = more reward. Is it hard to watch people leave, you bet. Could things be handled with more concern -- I argue in many units across the company they are. If people are that unhappy, leave. Being jealous of what others earn is silly. Make your own difference somewhere else, where I'm sure you'll have an equal amount of contempt because you haven't gotten yours.

  4. 12:50 - I agree with 12:34 to an extent. I don't mind executives making as much money as they can, unless they are the stewards of a failing company in deep distress and decline. They should not be rewarded when the company's performance is poor. When it's doing well, sure....make all the money you can.

  5. The issue is not the money they make, but that they are carving out special deals for themselves that don't apply to all employees. This is a public company, supposedly run for the benefit of its shareholders. It is not a sinecure where a special few get extraordinary treatment. Furthermore, Congress said in the matterr of pension laws that management could not give themselves any extra benefits out of a common pension plan because they saw, quite correctly, that management would drain pension plans for their own benefit if they did that.

  6. Actually, 12:50, I find that folks who have been able to find successful employ outside Gannett are shocked at what they had been willing to put up with for so long. Including attitudes like yours.

    There are many profitable companies whose leadership doesn't look at their employees as mere expense on the way to better bonuses, but Gannett is not one of them. I'm unaware of any consensus in the U.S. that "more risk = more reward" when it comes to health care costs, although it's clear that many executives do get preferred medical benefits. Clearly some people who benefit from that idea support the concept, as you do. But it is completely inappropriate for a company that honestly expects a good day's work out of its rank and file to go cheap on medical benefits for these employees. It's tough to focus on the day job, you know, when you're getting dunned with hospital bills you can't pay.

  7. Two years ago, I'll never forget overhearing my Gannett high-ranking boss in Crystal Palace bragging over the phone one day about his "executive plan" coverage to an outside friend. It was excruciating painful as he detailed the coverage for himself, wife and kids. I'm no longer there; he is and still riding the gravy train.

  8. 12:50 What additional risk do Dubow & Co. take compared to hourly workers? Seems to me that a career risked is a career risked, regardless of the individual situation.

  9. The issue here is that Dubow & Co make enough in salary that they could pay the benefits for this additional health care coverage out of their pockets if they wanted to. Shoveling the costs of these benefits on the company's shareholders is outrageous.

  10. Anonymous said...
    I started to agree with 12:34 but then I noticed you aren't really "one of us".

    Spoken with true arrogance and contempt. Gosh, I am glad I am not working under your tutelage. Just an insight on an arrogant boss:

    Arrogance is defined as conceit, self-loving and egotistic. In general, arrogance is self-confidence on drugs. Many employers do not know the distinction between supervising and controlling. Arrogant bosses never gain employees' respect. Arrogant bosses are viewed as dictators, insensitive, rulers and tyrants. Working with this type of boss can have negative effects on the quantity and quality of work generated by employees. Understand that an arrogant boss will not be a team player. Be prepared for constant changes in office rules. Arrogant bosses do not play by the company rules.

    Look for another job or transfer. Be sure to ask for references from a trustworthy source. Be careful. An arrogant boss will view a job search as a betrayal.

    As a final point: Arrogance comes before the fall - even monkeys fall from trees!! LOL

  11. I was laid off early this month. My health benefits run out on Monday. After that I have to send money to COBRA to continue health coverage.
    The COBRA package was only mailed to me *this week*. So, there will be a week's lag before they get my payment and start me up again. The kicker is that I *still don't have my package*.
    I had to phone Benefits, and that's when I found out that the package that took almost two weeks to process before mailing it out has incorrect numbers. I'll have to navigate the stupid voicemail system again when I get my package, just to make sure the numbers are correct. Otherwise they'll get my check and ignore it.
    The rep who helped me was very nice, but why am I sitting here at the end of February with my health care in limbo? Surely Gannett knows how to process layoffs by now............


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