Vol XI, No. 8TNG/CWA Local 31041January 19, 2000


The Belo pension:
* Generally higher pensions
* Better early retirement
* Factors in overtime, commissions, which can add 3 -7 % to benefit

The Belo Corp. pension provides higher paying pensions overall than the Providence Journal Co. retirement plan.

This is the conclusion of an analysis of the two plans by the Segal Company, a nationally known pension consultant hired by the Guild.

And this is the reason that pension remains a major issue in the difficult negotiations for a new Guild contract.

The differences can be big.

In one example worked out by the consultant, a long-time worker would get over $8,000 a year MORE under the Belo program than with the Journal plan.

The company has extended this pension program to other Journal employees. But it has refused to offer this important benefit to the Guild.

The unfairness of the company's position is as obvious as the thousands-of-dollars-a-year differences between the two plans.

Here are some of the factors that generally make the Belo pension superior, according to the Guild's consultant:

* The Belo plan provides earlier retirement eligibility and lower benefit deductions for those who want to retire before they turn 65.

* The Belo plan includes more of workers' pay in the computation used to calculate the pension by not only using base pay, as in the Journal plan, but adding in overtime pay, shift differentials, premium pay, bonuses and commissions. That's good for an extra 3 to 7 percent in a yearly pension payout.

* While both plans offset the payout with Social Security income, "the formulas can provide substantially different benefit amounts," the consultant said.

Guild members, many with decades of work for the newspaper, have seen the paper through good times and bad. And they are no less responsible for the paper's current prosperity than other workers.

That the Journal is doing a good job for Belo is a point not lost on Robert Decherd, corporate CEO, who reported in a "Belo*Notes" message to employees last year: "... two of our large market newspapers, the Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise, had outstanding years - achieving almost double-digit cash flow growth."

The discussion with the company about the pension dates back to 1997, the year in which the company offered the Guild two choices keeping its current package of fringe benefits; or re-open the contract after one year to adopt the entire Below program - sight unseen. Scraping the Guild benefit package at the time ran the risk of losing what the union knew to be superior medical benefits.

As we understand all too well now, the medical benefit package that we protected was a valuable asset, with three clear choices among medical plans, one of which included Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

In one of the flash points of the current negotiations, the company has imposed new medical plans on the Guild, even though the union has not agreed to the company package, which is more expensive, but less flexible than the plans covered by the contract. At the same time, the company has stubbornly refused to offer the positive portions of its benefit packages - namely the Belo pension and the 401k programs - to the Guild.

What is at stake here is far more than who wins an arm wrestling match at the bargaining table.

Pensions are vital to the lives of our workers, especially the ones who have been here for a long while, and whose labor and talent have enabled the company to flourish. The issue here is more than money, as important as that is. It's fairness.


A pension consultant to the Guild analyzed the Journal and Belo pension plans, using four examples. The result: the Belo plan provides more money in three of the cases.

WORKER #1 is age 60; she earns $47,000 a year and has worked for the paper 30 years. She'll retire at 65.
BELO $22,360.
JOURNAL $19,888
Difference $ 2,472

WORKER #2, age 60; pay, $40,000 (no overtime or incentives); service, 17 years.
BELO $11,463
JOURNAL $13,928
Difference: $ 2,465*
* The Journal pays non-Guild employees the higher of the Journal or the Belo pension. The Guild has proposed this same arrangement.

WORKER #3, age 58; pay $47,000; (including $3,600 of overtime or incentives); service, 37 years.
BELO $30,563
JOURNAL $21,869
Difference $ 8,694

WORKER #4, age 47; pay, $50,000; service, 17 years.
BELO $45,756
JOURNAL $41,148
Difference $ 4,608

Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495