Reports: Asbury Park Press laying off 120 drivers

Multiple tips from readers while I was at the beach, including this one: “At a 5:00 a.m. meeting this morning, the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J., gives all of its route drivers four weeks’ notice that they are being fired. It’s about 60 full-timers and 60 part-timers. We will get one week’s severance pay for each year of service, plus a four-week bonus. We just have to stay until Sept. 28 to get the severance. If we get fired or quit, we get nothing.”

The spouse of one driver writes: “The routes are going to be subcontracted out to individuals who are willing to work seven days a week, collect the payments from stores, earn no vacation, holiday, or sick time, and no health benefits. The drivers have been offered these routes before they are advertised to the public later this week. Who in their right mind would take it? You have to pay for the upkeep of the vehicle (provided by APP); you have to go out yourself to collect the payments from the stores, and still have to work at night to get the paper out to the stores — all this just to stay in a dying industry.”

Are any other Gannett businesses laying off drivers? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Earlier: Donovan confirms layoffs, cites ‘adverse’ conditions

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

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49 Responses to “Reports: Asbury Park Press laying off 120 drivers”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Union?

    If not, can someone please tell me how layoff and job elimination practices can vary so widely from property to property. Gannett initiated this payroll reduction effort and forced compliance, so I’m wondering why this is not being considered one event (Gannett corporate downsizing), with like treatment (length of severance and health coverage)for all. And I’m wondering why the company didn’t have to give everyone advanced notice under the—I think it’s called WARN.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Asbury is not a union shop. Never was, not even under Plangere/Lass ownership.

    And people thought it was bad the year Jules and Don froze our pay and eliminated Christmas bonuses.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hell – I just got laid-off from a NJ site and wasn’t offered a 4 week bonus. What’s up with that HR?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Are these Home Delivery carriers and Single copy carriers?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Federal law requires 60 day notice if more than 50 employees laid off at one site.
    http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/pdf/EmployerWARN09_2003.pdf
    But there is a big employer exemption, saying it doesn’t apply if the total number of layoffs is less than a third of total employment at the one site.
    Bottom line: you lose.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett could always maintain it is a faltering company, and so exempt from the federal law. It comes down to one of those “would have been nice” things if the company had done the decent thing, and given 60 notice anyway. But this is quite clearly a company that doesn’t play nice with its pee-ons.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    At this point, they might as well go back to have paper boys.

    This is easily one of the worst things you could do to when you’re trying to improve the sales of your newspaper. It amazes me how many companies don’t understand how important home delivery is, from how the paper is assembled to what customer service is like. For many people their experience with home delivery will MAKE OR BREAK whether or not they subscribe to or even read their local daily newspaper.

    I speak from experience – when I was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press I actually canceled my subscription to the paper because the home delivery service where I lived was god-awful. Customer service was a joke, even when I would tell them that I was an APP reporter! They really acted like they didn’t give a damn about getting my money.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    This is a tricky area, i.e, converting employee positions to independent contractors, if that’s GCI’s intention. There are legal considerations in changes such as this.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    2:58pm – Let me speculate. Gannett operates like no other newspaper company. I’ve worked for three including Gannett and there are some fundemental differences at Gannett. Each Publisher has a tremendous amount of control over her/his operation – particularly if this Publisher has been around a long time and is well connected. They may have an edict to cut X% of expense or X number of payroll dollars but each Publisher will make their own decisions in how to accomplish it. Moreover, depending on the site unless you’re an OC member you aren’t even a Gannett employee. You’re an employee of the individual newspaper and the company associated with it.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    How is it that a driver can be made responsible for upkeep of a company vehicle? If the tranny goes out, does some moke have to pull out his wallet to keep his $8 job?

    Explain please.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Those were the days, 4:50 PM. Times are changing.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    4:50
    That’s fine and what Gannett would probably want us to believe. But it was not true for this reduction in force—um, I mean payroll reduction initiative.

    Read the memo again. Publishers suggested cuts, but had to send corporate the plans. That implies corporate had to give approval. I’m just guessing someone with an abacus was really busy at corporate, counting the number of 40- and -overs and comparing it to the 40- and- unders.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that at all the Gannett newspapers in the midwest where I worked, delivery/routes were all contract workers. They use their own cars/trucks. The customers pay by mail/credit card/bank draft, however. They get paid mileage, which is Gannett rate. Don’t know anything about people collecting money from “stores.”
    They do fill racks and drain the change, however.
    I thought company owned/based distribution of newspapers had already gone the way of the dodo bird (no offense intended).

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Independent Contractors is the norm for delivery because its typically a second job for most of the carriers. Someone check, but I believe Nashville was the first one to do this several years ago with over 1000 involved.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    This is not carriers. These are the drivers that deliver to stores.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Doesn’t matter if they are carriers or single copy. Most places are IC’s.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Hey, I too was laid off – from the APP last week – I want to know where my 4 week bonus went. This is ridiculous.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Can anyone confirm the terms of this driver layoff? Is there really a 4 week bonus?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    rumor has it that all the NJ papers are going to be “circulated” by a contracted company…in other words: all Circ and transportation departments are being eliminated.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Word just went out from Louisville about the reorganization of circulation Distribution Centers…. With the layoffs they will no longer deliver newspaper replacements for missed papers (Monday-Friday)…. Is this the norm elsewhere or once again are they screwing the customer… They’ll get a credit off their bill and most likely the carrier will get bent over and screwed (even if it’s not their fault as in the case of a theft)….

    Sounds to me like customer service is going down yet another notch…..

  21. Anonymous Says:

    The Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ) drivers are unionized as are the circulation district managers. Teamsters, same as the nearby Phila Inquirer and Daily News. Some rumors that Inquirer drivers may deliver the Courier-Post after printed in the Inquirer press rooms…rumors only at this point.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    @4:04 PM
    I’m a former reporter, and I too had major newspaper delivery problems on two fronts.

    First, tried to use common sense by telling local circulation guy about my frustrating experiences with the remote call center in God only knows where. I thought I was doing a good thing. Management took an aloof “kill the messenger” stand, so I quit complaining.

    Also, delivery problems took up way too much of my time some days since sources would hear the name of the paper and want to rant and rave about their own delivery problems and the problems of their relatives and friends—-like I could really do something about it!

    I’m not convinced Gannett gets the whole credibility thing and how important reputation is for any business.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett doesn’t anymore, 8:38 AM. That’s because we have a broadcast guy in charge now. Until he’s gone, customer service will go by the wayside. I don’t understand how a broadcast guy got where he did in a NEWSPAPER industry. He doesn’t know the first thing about how a newspaper runs.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    This is 8:53 AM again.

    Just a clarification: I worked somewhere besides New Jersey or Kentucky.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    About IC delivery in Tennessee:

    Yes, The Tennessean did go from employee home delivery and single copy delivery to contract delivery back in June 2006. Don’t think it can’t happen; it already has happened. The new (at that time) publisher canned everyone from the Circulation Manager on down; about 140-150 managers and over 1000 carriers (home delivery and single copy). Most of the managers above district level were re-hired into newly created lateral positions and most of the carriers transitioned from employees to contract carriers. A portion of the district managers transitioned into “contract distributors” but most of the DMs and ADMs were simply kissed off.

    The result? Where most districts had a CPM of under 2.0 (acceptable had always been 1.2 – 1.6 depending on the district) delivery errors exploded like Vesuvius. Most districts are still well above a CPM of 5.0, and in the first year many districts saw a drop of around %15 subscription. Even districts that had high natural penetration have lost significant numbers and churn is out of this world as customer service offers out of this world deals to gain new subscribers.

    Add to the turmoil that customer service was removed from Nashville to Tulsa, the transition from the old (reliable) AS400 system to Genesis, and the fact that former DMs/now contractors can’t edit their lists… It’s a big cluster-**** with no sign of improvement in sight.

    AND! No employee that I know of has heard that their job is safe from the layoff announced 11 days ago.

    Think they can’t replace employee delivery with contractors? They don’t care what happens to the employees, to the customers being served, to their subscription base, or anything else I can think of. If they think it will advance their bottom line the employee is toast.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Unless otherwise protected by a union or an employment contract, you are an at-will employee and they can get rid of you at any time without even citing a reason. They do not have to give you a dime. There is nothing you can do about it unless you can prove it was part of an illegal grouping or pattern based on age, sex or race or the like.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Has anybody heard of the future plans for the Asbury Park Press District Managers?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t believe Nashville was first with ICs because we’ve been contracted delivery for many years, Home Delivery and Single Copy. Single Copy will collect from outlets (read that convenience stores) and Home Delivery gets bonuses for any accounts they sell and collect on. Beyond that, I was surprised to hear sites getting rid of SOME of their librarians. We haven’t had ANY librarians in years. All in all, I believe we’ve passed cutting fat and muscle. There’s too little bone left to get the jobs done that need to be done to be a successful company. How do we as an educated group make that message heard and acted upon?

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Today an APP E-mail was sent out with open job positions,not many but there are some. So how can it be with all the lay offs going on that there are open positions

  30. Anonymous Says:

    4:08 would you be privey(sp?) to tell us what those positions were for? I was laid-off and would be curious if these positions were something I could have been offered.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    There’s a big list of job openings on the Gannett Corporate site. Compare the departed staff list on here to what’s open, and I think you might conclude the same thing I did: This payroll deduction is designed to weed out people, not positions. And that’s fine, Gannett, as long as this scheme didn’t adversely and disproportionately clobber any of protected classes like the 40-years-and olders.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    http://www.app.com/static/workforus/joblisting.pdf

  33. Anonymous Says:

    OMG – How can you expect a manager to directly supervise an independent contractor? That’s just pitiful.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Hey! Work for (or recently not working for) a NJ paper? Trying to get a more local blog going at http://depressd.blogspot.com/ Take no offense Jim! We are totally copying your idea here, but this co. is so large (for now) that it’s sometimes hard to find site-specific info. There’s not much on this NJ blog but let’s change that. Start blogging NJ!

  35. Anonymous Says:

    About the APP drivers. No one is taking these jobs, Gannett is $4million in debt. Single copy is now crying because there are no shows for there independent driver event. DeSantis is in deep doo-doo if he can’t produce enough independents by Sept28. There is going to be major back peddling here. Severance has be offered and a declaration date of Sept 28 was issued to the drivers on 8/25.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    I should have stated that Gannett is $4 BILLION in debt!

  37. Anonymous Says:

    As of Friday, the amount of drivers that want any part of this program is 8. They will change their minds. S/C drivers and DM’s see it as too much work. Transportation has switched gears, and most PTer’s are being retained to do these routes after Sept 28th. DeSantis will be collecting UI shortly. The FT drivers are being dismissed however!

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Has anyone questioned the fact that we now have an Executive V.P., a V.P., and a Director of the most rapidly declining department in the company, circulation? What a great idea- hey this ship is sinking fast, I have an idea to save us, poor more water in the boat. What are their combined salaries? How many V.P.s do we need? Between the V.P. of H.R who manages about 5 people, to the V.P. of Marketing who manages about 5 people to the V.P. of finance who- after the end of this year will no longer have a department to manage. Or, how about Sales- with the rapid decline in this area, you would think the top dog would be thrown out with the bath water and exchanged for a newer model with new ideas. Tom Donovan is doing what is right for the future of this company based on what he has been dealt. His intentions are noble and I have faith that he is steering this ship away from the rocky shores, but Tom– The V.P. issue is getting out of control. You must be spending at least $700,000 on the Circ, HR, Marketing brain trust when their capable underlings could handedly handle there responsibilities for substantially less money. But come on employees- Tom is a highly paid Gannett soldier. Who among you wouldn’t do exactly what Tom has needed to do. Collins should have been doing this years ago to stabilize our futures but his pride didn’t allow him to give the appearance that he was failing.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Yes it was a sad day.No one wants to see people worried about where their next buck is coming from.But the higher ups at gannett have a job to do to keep the paper running and this was the only way.
    You would have to be blind and dumb to see the newspaper industry is heading down a dead end.They probably did you guys a favor.
    Not a bad severance and the 4 weeks was smart.
    Stop whining and move on.Just because you wont be able to work 30 hrs a week and get paid for 37.5 its not the end of the world.
    If everytime you did something you didnt cry to be paid extra maybe not everyone would have had to go!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know who wrote these last two post, but leave your name and I’ll meet you for lunch. Collins operated like a schemer, and Gandi was his hinchman. This company never made an offer to any driver as a solution to the company’s ecomonic wows. As far as getting paid for 37.5 and working 30, well, the paper got to the stores despite all delays by distribution and the pressman. The men who lost their jobs here are “the heart and soul of the APP.” “GO TO WORK IN A BLIZZARD, AND WORK IN IT!” DO WHAT WE’VE DONE! We have CDL’s. We are paid for what we do on those trucks! You can’t do what we do, in the time we do it! The hell with Donovan and all his cronies. Sept. 29th is the “death nell” of the APP. The sales of this rag will drop remarkably within a few weeks. This was a crazy idea Gary.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    WHINING!!!?? WORK 30 HRS GET PAID FOR 37.5!!?? I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU ON A ROUTE LIKE 101 OR 601 NEXT FRIDAY!!! BLAMING DRIVERS FOR THIS IS CRAZY WE ARE OUT THERE WHEN MOST DEATHS HAPPEN ON THE ROAD IN ALL TYPES OF WEATHER,LIKE TONITE FOR EXAMPLE SAT. MOST OF ALL DRIVERS BODIES ARE BEAT UP FROM THIS JOB.. WAIT TO SEE HOW THE INDEPENDENT DRIVERS WHINE!!

  42. Anonymous Says:

    THE PRESS WILL FIND OUT HOW GOOD THE DRIVERS DID THIER JOB THE FIRST DAY THEY ARE NOT THERE!!

  43. Anonymous Says:

    It’s Not Just the drivers that get a 30 hr or less work week

  44. Anonymous Says:

    I’m curious about one aspect of these driver/independent change-overs in the past. I believe Gannett as done this twice before. So hear are the questions, and can anyone answer? How many FT or PT Gannett drivers in the other publications took the opportunity to become indepedent drivers, as opposed to outsiders? What were the ratios?

  45. Anonymous Says:

    12:20- the intention of my post was misunderstood- I appreciate the jobs the drivers do. I hate you have been screwed. My point was that by trimming the executive fat-this compny could have saved your jobs. I would have lunch with you and we would agree on the degridation that these corporate profit chasers are doing.

  46. Anonymous Says:

    THE STAE OF THE INDUSTRY: The New York Times owns the City & Suburban Corp. As of 1/03/09 City & Suburban will no longer exist. 550 driver will lose their jobs. WOW!

  47. Anonymous Says:

    Oh Really. Well good for her. And so with your wealth of knowledge, this is ALL you have to offer in the driver crisis. LOL. Why do you kid us?

  48. Anonymous Says:

    Can you say “Down Route”

    That will be the most common phrase at the APP

  49. Anonymous Says:

    So yea Gannet really lived up to their word. Laying off approx 30-50 drivers a week early and cheating them out of a weeks pay. Sure Gary “business as usual till the 28th” I was done as of the 19th.

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