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Gannett pays workers less, top dogs more 

Lowdown

It's good to know that some corporate chieftains feel the pain of their underlings, who keep being forced to do more for less reward. Take the example of Gannett, the media giant that owns 23 television stations and 82 newspapers, including USA Today.

Early this year, Gannett employees were notified that, for the third year in a row, they would get no raises and also would have to take a week off without pay.

The note was written with a gentle hand, however, acknowledging the hardship that such sacrifices cause for workers and thanking them for their "great work." To soothe the pain a bit, the note added that Gannett's two top executives would take a commensurate cut in their salaries.

OK, team spirit!

But don't grab the pompons and break out in cheers. Only two months later, bonuses totaling $3 million were very quietly bestowed on the top two. And to add a bright cherry to this sweet delight, the duo of honchos also were awarded stock options and deferred pay totaling as much as $17 million.

So, some 32,000 workers across the country were forced into furloughs to save about $17 million for Gannett, but the corporation's No. 1 and No. 2 were then allowed to slurp up all of that savings and then some. Who says there's no "I" in team?

It's not like the executives are doing a terrific job. With them at the helm, Gannett's newspaper readership, revenues and the company's stock price have fallen substantially, and the corporate chieftains are widely viewed as lacking imagination. But they are credited with "aggressive cost management." What's that? It's a cynical corporate euphemism for throwing employees into the ditch.

Once again, working people are sacrificed because of management's failure, middle-class opportunities are shrunk, and top executives collect multimillion-dollar bonuses.

Where's the morality in that?

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

  • Who says there's no "I" in team?

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