Rochester Guild seeks pension error victims

On Friday, Rochester Newspaper Guild Secretary Gary Craig asked me to post the following. The 33% error rate he cites, below, for the pension statements Gannett sent to his Guild members is extraordinary. I, too, would like to know the extent of this previously undisclosed rate.

I’m writing in my role as an officer with the Newspaper Guild of Rochester and would like to hear from those of you who’ve had questionable experiences receiving your pension statements. Because we did not resolve our contract at the Democrat and Chronicle until July, we are receiving our statements this week. Unfortunately, there were significant errors — acknowledged by Gannett — in about a third or more of the statements received by our members. According to Gannett, the company that performed the calculations did not add in the pre-1998 years of service for anyone who worked with the company before that year. So one three-decade employee, for instance, received a statement with a pension calculation about a third of the actual figure.

After reading about the errors at other worksites on Gannett Blog, we had limited confidence in the likelihood these numbers would be correct in the first place — and we have even less now. Union leaders spent much of the day Thursday sorting out who received erroneous numbers and, after a bevy of complaints, Gannett acknowledged the error.

Gannett, of course, wants to assure us that the problem is now resolved and thinks we should accept that the corrected statements will be accurate and that the numbers received this week for those who joined the workforce after 1998 were indeed accurate. You can understand our lack of faith.

We’d like to hear from those who got inaccurate statements earlier. We also wonder whether anyone ever saw the actual calculations with their specific numbers — such as your specific final average salary multiplied by the various multipliers, etc. Granted, the formula is available, but we at the Guild wonder whether any employees who questioned or challenged their numbers were given the specifics of their individual calculations.

Gary asks that you please post your replies in the comments section, below. Or you may e-mail him directly via local17@rochester.rr.com.

Earlier: Ask Tara — how many of the pension statements were incorrect?

[Image: today’s Democrat and Chronicle, Newseum]

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9 Responses to “Rochester Guild seeks pension error victims”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    My first statement was inaccurate; it left out 14 years at my first two Gannett papers. The corrected statement appears accurate, including the running of the formulas. (All my time Gannett times were at non-guild papers.) The explanation was something to the effect that the current local site did not have a record of work at the previous sites. Others, sharing buyout information at the time, had years-of-service problems that once were corrected seemed to yield accurate pension statements.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I’m completely confused by the pension mess.

    Gannett bought the Asbury Park Press around 1997, and my employment predates that. We have no union.

    The first letter I received was one that said to disregard the first pension statement (what first pension statement?) because it was inaccurate and I would be getting another one. A couple of days later, I received the one and only pension statement I’ve ever gotten from the company. Not only do I have no past statement to compare the calculations, but I don’t know if it is the supposedly accurate one or the inaccurate one. The letter didn’t say how long it would be before I received a second letter, which I have yet to receive.

    My statement was half of what I thought it should have been, based on what other people with similar Gannett work history have received.

    No one at APP has been able to answer: What does the pre-1998 problem mean to those of us who were employed by our Gannett paper before 1998 but our paper wasn’t Gannett before 1998?

    People who took the buyout are really pissed by all this pension mismanagement. They relied on HR’s representation that they could immediately cash out certain retirement funds, and now are being stonewalled trying to get any of it out to reinvest. At least that’s how I understand it.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Wondering if the reports that corporate had to prepare to meet tax and ERISA requirements used correct assumptions and information or the information that ended up on the incorrectly calculated benefit statements?

    That certainly is a puzzling explanation—local site did not have a record of work at the previous sites—for a company whose benefits (pension, 401K, employee assistance, disability) seem to be centrally controlled.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    http://www.pensionrights.org/

  5. Anonymous Says:

    2:26 – Here is what happen in Asbury Park.
    In the early ’90 Jules and Don froze the pension and later converted it to a cash value plan, similar to what Gannett did. You were sent a letter stating the amount you had earned.
    If you were hired after that date then your only retirement plan was teh 401K.
    When Gannett bought the Press, it took the lump sum if any and converted it to a percentage amount for the Gannett cash retirement plan.
    The Gannett plan then added 5% a year for each year worked at Gannett, after ten years the percentage added raised to 7%. Since the Press was purchased in late 97, you have 10 years time 5% plus a prorated portion of this year at 7%, so it totals 55% plus what ever percent you had from the press pplan.
    You take that percentage and multiply against you five year average salary.
    The original letters assumed all years worked at the Press applied to the pension, which was not the case. This is one you have to blame on the previous management/owners.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I think it is time to strike. A mass strike. That would help things don’t you think?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Striking at a union site may help, but at non-union sites, they would be royally SOL. No union, no protection.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    where has it helped so far? Detroit, Hawaii, Rochester? Nah

  9. Anonymous Says:

    When we lay off union people, they get three weeks severance. 2 years or 22 years, you get three weeks.

    How’s that for union representation? Good thing you can depend on your 401k for retirement…. oh wait, you don’t get that either.

    Hope that doesn’t make you sick, remember, you don’t get sick days until after the first two days out. You could take personal days, but you get fewer of those than the non-union staff.

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