The nation's largest newspaper chain, Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader in my corner of Missouri and USA Today, is at it again.
The newspaper chain, which has become notorious in recent years for awarding sky-high bonuses to its top executives while forcing all of its workers to go without pay two weeks each year, is firing 200 employees just before Christmas and telling readers that it will make their newspapers better.
Gannett filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing its intention to shut down its Cincinnati printing plant, eliminating 200 jobs, and outsourcing the printing for Gannett's Cincinnati Enquirer and Kentucky Enquirer to the company that owns the Columbus Dispatch. And while the filing indicates the outsourcing is "possible," the fact that it has reached this stage indicates it is a done deal.
The filing contains the following Gannett spin:
Use of the Columbus printing facility will enable The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Kentucky Enquirer to adopt a new and easy-to-use format, with improved graphics including fuller use of color and photographs.
The costs of operating the Columbus printing facility will be shared by the parties to the Agreement, resulting in efficiencies and costs savings for the Company.
The transition of operations could take up to twelve months to complete. In connection with these actions, the Company estimates that it will incur between $55 million and $59 million in costs and charges. These items include severance costs and charges related to the partial withdrawal from multiemployer pension plans which together will range from $38 million to $42 million and will result in future cash expenditures. In addition, the Company will recognize accelerated depreciation charges on its current printing facilities of approximately $17 million.
The announcement comes just a few short weeks after former Gannett CEO Craig Dubow stepped down. While the printing plant workers will likely receive enough to keep them afloat for a short time, Dubow left with a $37.1 million severance package.
According to an earlier proxy statement filed with the SEC, which I wrote about in my blog, The Turner Report, on March 25, Dubow was guaranteed that amount if he stepped down due to a disability If he had simply retired or quit, he would have "only" received $22 million.
Isn't it about time for an Occupy Gannett movement?