Advertiser offering early-retirement buyouts?

by Leslie Turk

Gannett Blog, which is not affiliated with the newspaper giant, is reporting that eight Daily Advertiser employees, who are at least 56 with 20 years of service, have been offered buyouts.

Gannett Blog reported Thursday that Gannett Co. Inc. has announced what amounts to a first in its ongoing effort to cut costs: widespread early-retirement offers. The McLean, Va.-based company, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, has been cutting jobs at its newspaper and TV stations since 2008. Gannett Blog characterizes the move as a "major shift in the company's payroll reduction strategy ... which since 2008 has focused almost exclusively on increasingly draconian mass layoffs, pay freezes and unpaid furloughs."

Eight employees in Lafayette and 10 in Shreveport may have been offered buyouts, according to the blog. Read more here.

U.S. newspapers President Bob Dickey sent a memo Thursday to the approximately 20,000 employees in his division. Below is the "confidential" memo, obtained by Gannett Blog, which is not affiliated with Gannett:


TO: U.S.C.P. Employees
FR: U.S. Community Publishing President Bob Dickey
RE: Voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program

Dear colleagues:

Today we are offering a voluntary Early Retirement Opportunity Program to 665 eligible U.S. Community Publishing employees who are age 56 with at least 20 years of service, as of March 31, 2012, and who are in certain departments and/or job categories. Eligibility by department or job category varies by each operating unit depending on its needs.

This offer was designed to be as attractive as or better than others in the industry. The Early Retirement Opportunity Program also is the first offered by Gannett since 2008. The offer provides for salary continuation of two weeks' pay for each complete year of service, capped at 52 weeks, and ongoing health, dental and vision coverage during this period.

Employees who are eligible will have 45 days to accept. At the close of the offer period, Gannett will review acceptances and make final decisions based on the terms of the offer.

As mentioned the program is completely voluntary for these valued, long-term employees. They have helped steer a strong and steady course for the company for many years, including through recent challenging economic times, and their work is deeply appreciated.

It's worth noting that while 785 employees meet the criteria, the offer is being offered to 665 employees due to ongoing operational needs at the company. The offer is for U.S. Community Publishing employees only.

The Early Retirement Opportunity Program is one part of our ongoing strategy to transform the company with a focus on remaining the top news and information provider in your market. To accomplish this, it entails a ground-up assessment of our overall structure and resources. At this time we are offering this program instead of pursuing other cost management actions but we cannot rule out other actions in the future.

Please look for a separate letter today from your publisher, who will provide more details about this program and your location.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or your publisher.

Bob Dickey President/U.S. Community Publishing

Read the publisher of Gannett Blog's take on the latest announcement here; he's a former USA Today editor and reporter.