Is Gannett breaking labor law? Or are they just unethical?

Dateline: Sun 12 Jul 2009

Ok, so we all know the answer to Question No. 2.

But...eyebrows are being raised about the legality of Gannett's strategy to cut off its fired management employees without severance pay. (The employees covered by the Guild contract are getting the severance due them, according to the contract, but management workers have been cut off at the knees).

As this blog reported Friday, quoting a Guild source:

 "An exempt employee just confirmed that they (fired managers) are getting no severance. Gannett has set up a trust and requires them to take unemployment.

  "Gannett will make up the difference between unemployment and their salary for an amount of time based on years of service."

Here is an update on this situation, from a source in the know:

"It's not possible to collect money from a former employer AND claim unemployment insurance at the same time -- which is what Gannett is telling its fired management people to do.

"The state demands a dollar for dollar deduction from the benefits received -- the max is $390 a week in Indiana, after the first 20 percent of that $390."

So here is the $490,00 question -- roughly the salaries of the seven management people let go by Gannett, assuming each were making about $70k a year -- what trick is Gannett using to get around the rules?

They've set up "a trust"-- what does that mean?

Are their actions legal? God knows, they are not ethical.

Is this an opportunity for a smart and justice-serving labor lawyer to challenge Gannett in court? Is anybody game?

Here are the list of managers fired by Gannett, from the list supplied by the Guild last week:

Thomas, Jackie AME/Features

Greenberg, Allen Assistant Metro Editor/State Government

Seifert, Channon Features Art Director

Hawn, John -- features copy desk chief

Roberts, Shirley -- business copy desk

Demaree, Rosalyn V -- editor in the Fishers-based north office

Jonason, Bob -- online/calendar desk

Again, as reported here Friday, the Guild was careful to note the individuals covered by the contract when it sent out its list of the 37 who are now gone. These seven people were listed as not being represented by the Guild and I am pretty sure all were managment.

Reminds me of an old saying from the 1980s, when then-copy editors John Hawn, George McLaren and myself, also a copy editor, worked on a campaign to get people in the newsroom to become Guild members:

"Join the Guild, and nobody gets hurt."

But become a part of Gannett, and everybody gets hurt...





Indy Girl [Member] said:

Hats off to the fat puppet who's making these people people who LOST THEIR JOBS scramble & figure it out themselves when they already have so much to worry about. The state is severely backlogged with SUI claims - I know someone who has been waiting for 7 weeks and still hasn't received benefits.

2009-07-13 23:55:47

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