Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bruce Hartmann Issues Memo With Ax in Hand

Here is the Memo that Bruce Hartmann sent to employees of the Big Metal Shed on the Hill, at least three sources from within the Big Metal Shed have assisted Brian's Blog with this information.

February 18, 2009

Dear coworker,

As you know, the economic forces affecting our media company continue to challenge all of us. These conditions are forcing us to take some fairly serious cost-reduction measures at The News Sentinel and all of its operations.

Below are a number of difficult steps that we have decided to take to enable us to better match our expenses to our revenue realities. These steps will be taken in a manner consistent with the Company's legal and contractual obligations:

· Pay reductions. Effective March 9, 2009 the pay of exempt employees will be reduced by 5 percent and non-exempt employees will see a reduction of 3 percent, except in limited, specific circumstances as required by law. This change will be reflected in the pay received on March 27, 2009 and will apply to all employees on the payroll as of March 9, 2009. You’ll be hearing shortly from your manager/director who will discuss specifically what this means to you.

· Pay rates freeze. Pay rates will be frozen effective March 9, 2009. After your pay is reduced, you will not receive any pay increase for at least one year.

· Suspension of 401(k) plan match. As you read in Rich Boehne’s e-mail, the company will suspend the company match into our 401(k) program. While you can continue contributing to your retirement savings account, the company match will end beginning with the first pay in April. The match has been an important part of our 401(k) plan and we hope to reinstate it when business conditions improve.

· Tuition assistance plan termination. Effective immediately, we will terminate the tuition assistance plan. Any courses approved prior to today for 2009 will be honored.

· Pension plan freeze. At a date to be determined soon, we will freeze the pension plan. Importantly, we will offer a transition benefit for those who are close to retirement, and everyone will receive additional details on all the changes – including the transition benefits – when we finalize decisions about the freeze.

As a reminder, your accrued pension benefits are protected by law.

We also intend that these changes will eventually apply to all Company employees and to that end we will, where required by law, engage in bargaining with our unionized departments.

Should you be contacted by outside media, please refer them to Deanene Catani, our marketing director, and she will handle the communication. Any columns, blogs, statements on talk radio, etc. must be approved in advance by me.

These economic times are challenging, but I am confident that the Company is positioned to succeed. Your continued efforts to serve our customers, grow our audience and increase our advertising share are critical to our success.

A brief Q&A is attached, and you can direct additional questions to your manager/director, Johnda Pershing or me.

Bruce Hartmann

Questions and Answers:

When will these changes be reviewed and reinstated?
We continually monitor business conditions. Our hope is to be able to reinstate the 401(k) plan match as soon as business conditions allow, but the decision to freeze the pension plan will be permanent. You will receive more details about your pension and the transition benefit when those details are available.

Can I still contribute to my 401(k) plan while the match is suspended?
Yes, you still can contribute to your 401(k) plan.

How long will pay rates be frozen?
Once your pay is reduced, you will not receive any pay increase for at least one year. Our hope is that the economy and business conditions will improve and, as a result, we will be able to revisit some of these cost reduction measures.

Will there be any other cost-reduction initiatives for 2009?
We hope these changes are an effective step and any additional changes will depend on changing business conditions.

Original Post Friday February 27. 2009 at 6:35 P.M. Multiple sources from the Big Metal Shed on the Hill report to us today that News Sentinel Publisher Bruce Hartmann has sent a memo to employees of the Scripps owned News Sentinel. The memo reportedly states that individuals in a management position are recommended to take a 5% pay cut. All other employees are recommended to take a 3% pay cut. In addition the 401K has been frozen. The Brian's Blog team is working to secure a copy of the Hartmann memo.

1 comment:

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