Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

When It Happens to You

I was a little ticked that the idiots at AIG got bonuses.  But I couldn’t get too worked up about it, in large part because there has been so much contradictory information floating around that has been difficult to tell what exactly went on.  I really don’t like getting pissed off about something unless I’m entirely sure what I’m getting pissed off about.

I found out today, though, that it is easy to get pissed off about bonuses when it happens to you.

As I’ve mentioned before, I work for a newspaper, Gannett (accent on the “ett,” not the “Gann”) to be specific.  I’ve been here almost exactly one year.  I work for a Vermont newspaper that is under the Gannett umbrella.  This particular newspaper is still making money; not much but some.  Other papers have not been so lucky.

The company has done layoffs that affect each paper to varying degrees. There were two rounds last year where this paper lost somewhere around 20 people.  Doesn’t seem like much but when you only employ less than 200 it really is a bunch.  Especially in this economy.

Midway through January we were told that we would all have to take a one-week unpaid furlough in the first quarter in an effort to stave off further lay-offs.  I dutifully took mine the following week (long Inaurguration celebration) and sucked it up.

Most of us figured, however, that more steps would be needed to cut costs.  Between the economy in general and the business in particular we were expecting something else.

Today I came in and the maintenance dude said, “hey, have you seen the e-mail about the second quarter furloughs?”  I hadn’t yet but, again, I was not surprised.

I was pissed, though, because I had read an article at the Huffington Post about executive bonuses at Gannett, Gannett Executive Receive Nearly $2 Million in Bonuses, Golden Parachute, Amid Layoffs and Foldings…

According to SEC filings the CEO and top four executives are getting nearly $2 million in bonuses, with the CEO getting a cool $875,000.  The filing lists all the reasons the executives are due these bonuses, including my personal favorite: “The Company achieved substantial expense reductions, including significant headcount reductions, the pension freeze, centralization and consolidation efforts” (we’ll move all the jobs to one location and screw the local workers).

Here’s another blurb I like in their justification under the heading of “Retention: The Committee wants to reward and send a positive message to key employees who are driving our transformation.”  So screw the lowly employees who do the grunt work.

To be fair, the CEO and others have not had a salary increase since 2006.  The CEO’s contract salary is $1.2 million and he has voluntarily reduced that salary to….oh yeah, give the guy a prize…$1.0 million.  Thanks for the $200,000; I hope you can survive the hardship.

And, just in case you weren’t feeling the love from the company, they have instituted a wage freeze effective from April 1, 2009 until March 31, 2010.  Happy April Fool’s Day, suckers.

Yep, it hurts when it happens to other companies and other people.  It hurts a lot more when it happens to you.


  1. “Happy April Fool’s Day, suckers.”

    There is a serious disconnect between the executive class and everyone else in this society. I’d say it is up to the stockholders to push for change. When a CEO can make 500 times what a production worker makes then something is totally out of whack. If these people really think they are worth that much money then I say we need to go back to a true progressive tax scheme.

    If you set a base of 39% on incomes of $250,000 then someone making over $1,000,000 should be paying 45% and incomes over $2,500,000 should be paying around 50-60%.

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