Reader: HR gave us false information, ignored us

Regarding former Detroit Free Press recruiter Joe Grimm‘s advice on evaluating buyouts, a reader says: “I took a buyout from the Indy Star and here’s the reality: The terms were great, two weeks pay and healthcare for every year worked. However, when we started asking questions, they either didn’t know the answers, gave us false information or ignored us. HR did very little to help us out, and now, a colleague whose health insurance ran out last month is STILL trying to get new insurance in place. HR says we can’t go to them, we have to go to Corporate. Corporate jacks us around, says they’ll get back to you, etc. This is HEALTH INSURANCE, folks, something we all need, especially us older geezers. So, while Grimm might have had all his ducks in a row, you’re only as informed as HR wants you to be — and guess how informed that is? Yeah, you’ve got it. . . .”

Join the debate, in the original post.

(Confidential to Gannett human resources chief Roxanne Horning: I found the HR departments at the four newspapers where I worked too often uninformed, unresponsive and sometimes downright surly. Why do you allow that?)

Earlier: Corporate ‘screwed up’ in pension errors

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24 Responses to “Reader: HR gave us false information, ignored us”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I too have had numerous problem getting adequate responses from my
    local HR dept.
    Follow up with Corporate HR-
    specifically Roxanne has been ignored and non-responsive.
    It seems GCI Corporate operates under the process of “ignore them”
    and they will go away.
    It is shameless,unethical and immoral…but what would you expect from Gannett?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Best advice I ever got about HR: “Remember those people are not your friends.” They work for GCI, not us.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    How long does it take to get your pension funds out once you leave the company? I am think of packing it, but wondering how long it will take and how it is calculated.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Remember not too long ago Gannett announced the pension freeze and provided that 800 number for questions? The call went to Hewitt and we were supposed to get a call back from corporate within seven days. Well a coworked of mine is still waiting for her call back for a question that she asked way back then.

    Why, oh why won’t somebody at corporate that’s in a position to do something about improving communication when it comes to employee relations step up and do something about it? Dumb question, I guess, because the real answer is probably money. Or they just take glee in jacking people around every chance they get.

    Maybe it’s time to contact those folks that have bestowed awards on Gannett as being a great place to work and let them know what the real Gannett is like…..

  5. Anonymous Says:

    “Anonymous said…
    How long does it take to get your pension funds out once you leave the company? I am think of packing it, but wondering how long it will take and how it is calculated.”

    Actually, the pensions came quickly, at least mine did. The Star buyout was Aug. 3 and it was too late to get the pensions in place for Sept., so I got mine Oct. 1 retroactive to Sept.

    Are there any awards for getting something right? A Pulitzer maybe?

    And don’t you just love working in “communications” where none exist? Corporate probably jacks us around because, well, they can.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    It’s been 2 months since I requested my pension info so I could move the money to an IRA. I call the local HR people every week. Seems the folk at Corporate are “overwhelmed” and are unable to handle all the requests. Obviously Gannett management again forgot to plan for the results of their actions.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Did anyone ever figure out why some sites are being offered 2 weeks/yr and others are getting only 1 with no health insurance?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    If only Gannett were a model of monolithic corporate efficiency.
    Unfortunately, it is a compromised company, its products and employees roiled by fear, uncertainty, and, in some cases, desperation.
    The death-by-a-thousand-cuts shows no signs of letting up. Thousands will survive, but thousands more will also fall, victims of consolidation, jobs machine-gunned into oblivion, dreadfully dull, cookie-cutter web sites and rapidly deteriorating newspapers.
    It would be nice to have a database of the company’s layoffs and buyouts since 2005 (hell, since 2007 would be nice), but it would take a lot of work to collate all that info without company cooperation. As many have noted, some Gannett papers report on their internal buyouts and layoffs. Others, run by journalistic felons and incompetents, publicly ignore them.
    Based on what I’ve read, the buyouts this year have broken down into two general types:
    The first model is two weeks of pay for each year of service up to a year’s salary, and health benefits at the active employee rate during the course of the severance up to one year.
    The other buyout model has been to offer one week’s pay for each year of service, but to sweeten the deal with three years of health coverage at the active employee rate, plus a boost in pension benefits of two to three extra years of service. Those health and pension bennies, depending on the employee, could almost equal in cash value that second week of pay for each year of service.
    With the pension plan now frozen, goodness knows what future buyout offers will be like.
    Straight layoffs are another story.
    I would imagine the company would still offer the laid-off one week’s pay for each year of service, but forget the pension bump or the extra health insurance. I know that Fort Myers and Jackson, Miss.,recently announced layoffs, but there were no details on the terms.
    COBRA would provide health insurance for those laid off, but it ain’t cheap. I guess those who are laid off, even if they got a severance, could also collect unemployment benefits, which I do not believe would be available to those who took a “voluntary” early retirement buyout.
    With all the correspondents out there in Gannettland in all departments, it would be nice to see detailed, voluminous postings on this blog of the cutbacks that will undoubtedly be happening for the indefinite future. Employees are desperately in need of information.
    But this company is now so wounded and mismanaged it is hard to get a sharp focus on a fucking thing.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    In regard to unemployment comp, it depends entirely on the law in your state. In Ohio, you are eligible even if you take a voluntary buyout if it is part of a general reduction in force or comes with the threat of layoffs.

    However, the state deducts your severance pay from whatever benefit you’d get, so for many that’s a wash. You might be eligible for unemployment after severance runs out, but that’s a big maybe, again depending on the laws in your state.

    Bottom line: Invest the time to learn how your state’s system works.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks, big G, for the 58¢/hour raise that’s started to pop into my 401(k).

    Now that’s money I know I’ll have in the future. Instead of getting lost in some pension fund scandal down the road, it’ll be safely invested in…um, Gannett stock…..Oh crap.

    Time to move money again – http://resources.hewitt.com/gannett/, here I come.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Just wondering…when Gannett does a buyout or layoff and there’s a package being paid out, where does that money come from? The local site or a corporate pool of funds? Does the site record it as savings even if they are paying someone for “up to a year”?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    The money ultimately comes from Gannett. The site does realize the savings, immediately, as the “cost” of the buyouts is taken “below the line” i.e., not an expense in terms of calculating NIBT (net income before taxes).

    That is my understanding.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    It should take no more than two months for Gannett to cut a pension-rollout check. First the HR department of your paper has to send some paperwork to corporate, and corporate will ask who you want the check made out to. In my case, I had it made out to the brokerage firm handling my IRA. Then, when I received the check, I sent it to my brokerage and they added the funds to my account. There is no tax penalty for a rollover like this, and once the money is in your IRA, you can invest it however you see fit. The beauty is that Gannett can no longer touch the money, and you are no longer at the mercy of Gannettoids. I rolled out of the 401k, too, although that involved Hewitt/ybr.

  14. Dutch619m Says:

    to 8/09/08,5:31, you ask
    “Did anyone ever figure out why some sites are being offered 2 weeks/yr and others are getting only 1 with no health insurance?”

    Answer is Union representation.
    for more info call:
    1-800-411-9292

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Union represenation? Om my gosh the GUILD hasn’t saved a job in 10 years! The two weeks vs one is the difference between the voluntary buyout offer and an involuntary layoff. The UNION doesn’t tell you that because they are not big on the the truth. They would rather tell you what they think you want to hear.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett has never been consistent in offering buyouts and severance. Its mostly a region by region thing. I’ve seen 1 week/year, two weeks/ year and combinations. One observation. through the last 3 decades I’ve watched Gannett negotiate with any number of different unions including the Guild, CWA, printers, mailers etc. and unless you are willing tio bring in Jimmy Hoffa Sr and the teamsters I doubt any unionization would have any impact except to accerate the downsizings as they negotiate the contract that will never get completed. I suspect that they would welcome strikes. One other point. With the dearth of unions in Gannett why would you think that would have any influence on buyouts. In most cases if employees are covered under a CBA the company can just lay employees off by seniority, pay unemployment and be done with it. It would be cheaper than doing severence payments. My experience is there is a lot of misinformation offered by both sides in unionizing campaigns and the union side claims to be able to deliver more than they are capable off. Several years ago the CWA dropped the Compositors/Engraversin several Gannett sites because the dues weren’t enough to justify the effort. At this point a union will only determine the order that the Titanics passengers are dumped into a a very frigid ocean. My guess is anyone that goes out on a strike will be replaced or consolidated and never see the insideof a Gannett facility again except to pick up their personal belongings under supervision and then be escourted to the door.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Dutch619m,
    I hope you're saying that not being in the Union is a better place to be…let's face it…do you really think the Union big wigs give a &%#& about any of their people anymore than the management at Gannett does?
    From what I've seen in the last year, Gannett management laughs at the Union members because they are stupid for paying dues and getting nothing in return. Even if there is a contract, it isn't honored, and Gannett does whatever it wants. The Unions no longer have any power, and both sides know it.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    This is all very interesting but is anyone going to comment on the HEALTH INSURANCE ISSUE???

  19. Dutch619m Says:

    anon 8:46
    Nope, I’m proud to be a Union man, I’ve got grievance and arbitration rights that “at will” employees will never see. I’ve got layoff protection, can’t be laid off and then rehired the next day at a substantial cut in pay. How many folks at the C-J have suffered this indignation?
    My Teamsters Union has a knockout pension plan, http://www.ilpfgciu.org/home.htm
    and we have health insurance for workers and retirees alike. In fact, one of our locals proved to GCI that we could reduce their costs. They weren’t interested.
    I also believe that yor Gannettoidal zeal keeps you from seeing the forest.
    The only way our trade can be saved from the corporate parasites is for those of us that do the work to take it back.
    We must get over feeling that our particular dept is the only reason we get a paper on the street. The copy boy ( I know, that’s dated) the Carrier and utility worker are just as important as the writer, electrician, press-operator or mailer. We must work together!
    So I’ll keep believing in my Union and work toward saving our trade, rather than be like some who would wring their hands and hope that they are not next. Or spout rhetoric and vitriol as others are inclined to do.
    You can still call 1-800-411-9292
    for more info. IBT/GCC District Council 3 now has contracts in some 2 dozen newspapers, and growing.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t trust Gannett (or any company, for that matter) to give you the “real” figure for your pension. So far, I’ve received at least three different figures for my payout after I was bought out, so I’ve now engaged the National Center for Retirement Benefits Inc. in Northbrook, Ill. They call themselves the “pension detectives,” and for a reasonable fee (percentage of monies recovered) they will do the necessary research. For information and forms, call (800) 666-1000. It could be worth the time. From what I’ve found out, they have found extra money for 50 percent of the people who contact them re: pension questions.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    I remember back in the very early ’80s when The Newspaper Guild filed suit against Gannett for taking advantage of correspondents (stringers) in Lansing. The two sides agreed on arbitration in which the TNG argued against good ol’ WVL.

    TNG won its argument, and Gannett had to pay the correspondents thousands in back pay (based on the hourly wage they should have received vs. the flat fee they did receive). In addition, Gannett had to put the correspondents on the payroll as part-time hourly employees with health insurance.

    So, do unions look out for employees? Yes they do. In many respects they are the only watchdog / advocate remaining for employees.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    For the poster who wants more comment on the health insurance snafu and other buyout problems reported at the Indy Star, all I can say is that the buyout documents should list all the benefits coming to the employee. If the company has fucked them up, local HR should be fixing the situation, instead of passing the ball to corporate.
    But Gannett is so mismanaged, I can see an individual falling into a Kafkaesque nightmare because of HR incompetence or screwed up paperwork.
    My buyout documents were quite clear about what I was getting in all respects from pension to health insurance to severance, and I have not had any problems so far, knock on wood.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Key phrase in above quote…"Back in the early 80's"
    If GCI is violating wage and hour OR CBA'S YOU can win. That much hasn't changed in the ensuing years but W&H laws vary state by state and if journalists are considered "professionals" the OT doesn't apply unless its in a CBA. A lots changed in 25 years. Gannett is much larger and has deeper pockets. They can easily get the papers out no matter what the environment.. If they could take on Detroits unions for years and continue why wouldthey ever worry about any other union activity? WVL laughs at the thought of a strike. A strike is a license for GCI to do whatever it wants. Technology makes it easier than ever to put out a ppaer and update a website. Hell, they could us the 2ADPro group in India> Pardon the sarcasm but the ship has sailed. The time when a union could impact this company or this industry has past. I agree everyone outside of the executive suite needs help and support from somewhere but I doubt it can get there fast enough or be of much help once it arrives. Things are just that bad.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Dutch,
    Gannett management hates Unions so much they will close the plant rather than have a Union in it. It’s happened and will happen again. The Unions are just another annoying thorn in “their” side.
    p.s.
    I’m neither pro-Union nor pro-Gannett. I am, however, unemployed.

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