Inquirer Buyout and Pension Update
This is intended to address a few questions that keep coming up about the buyout and to relay what Bill Ross and I heard this morning at the pension trustees meeting.
Unlike other buyouts, this one is offering more flexibility in terms of when anyone who takes the voluntary separation package must leave. If you want the buyout but don’t want to leave June 11, that will all be established as you go through the paperwork process. If, for instance, you want to say yes to the buyout but work until October, or even the end of the year, that can be arranged in discussions between Bill and P & C.
There are no layoffs threatened if the company doesn’t reach the goal of 40 people it has set. That’s 40 people throughout the company, and includes managers. Those who don’t take the buyout, especially in the newsroom, could find themselves possibly reassigned to other jobs. So, if you are on the fence and a reassignment would cause you to not want to continue to work here, it’s important you have conversations with your supervisors NOW. Don’t let the May 31 deadline for applying for the buyout pass and THEN learn that you’re vulnerable to being reassigned to something you hate.
If you are vested in the pension, meaning you had worked at the company at least five years at the time the pension was frozen in 2010 you also upon taking the buyout would be entitled to a payout from the Guild Supplemental Pension Fund, a remnant of the Knight-Ridder days. That is paid as a monthly annuity for the rest of your life or until the fund runs out of money. The annuity amount is based on what you were earning at the time the fund was frozen. Exact payout info is provided from the pension administrators. You will need to call there to learn the exact amount to which you would be entitled: 800-847-0902
At today‘s pension trustees meeting, the actuaries remained unable to guarantee that the pension has been saved by the American Rescue Plan Act. That is only because they continue to await information from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in Washington on qualifying and application criteria. Under the Act, the PBGC has until July 9 to issue all those guidelines to troubled multiemployer pension plans such as ours.
Under the Act, about $86 billion has been set aside for troubled multiemployer pension plans to make them whole and reliable through 2051. The actuaries say we definitely meet the criteria for being eligible for rescue in that our fund is in critical declining status.
The law allows for a hierarchy of applications, meaning funds that are already insolvent could be considered first, followed by plans that already implemented some benefit suspensions, followed by large financially distressed plans, followed by plans projected to be insolvent within five years. (Our pension plan is projected to run out of money in 2025.)
We are assured there is plenty of time to secure our rescue funds. They will inform us of every new development.
It is out of an abundance of caution that the actuaries are not willing to declare that folks’ pensions are guaranteed for 30 years until they see the qualification and application guidelines in July.
What they were willing to say is: “All participants are in a much better place. [Prior to the Act] we were on death’s doorstep. This is a total 180.”
Bill and I tried to convince The Inquirer to wait until we had definitive word on the pension before offering the current buyout. We told them it would likely enable some to be able to make a more informed decision about the buyout. Obviously we weren’t successful.
Ok. That’s a lot of information. Please reply to this bulletin if you have any questions.