Lee delays funding pensions

Lee Enterprises execs just can’t stop giving the finger to employees.

In 2011 — the year the newspaper chain filed for bankrupcy — CEO Mary Junck and Co. got 30%+ raises.

Then in March, Lee’s executive compensation committee decided Junck and CFO Carl Schmidt deserved a total of $750,000 in bonuses for doing their job and refinancing some loans.

Over the weekend, Lee employees received this notice from the company about their Pulitzer Pension Plan: “The employer [Lee] sponsoring your pension plan has made an election permitted under Federal law to delay funding for the plan. The election applies to the plan year beginning on January 1, 2011 and ending on December 31, 2011.” Lee’s union has told members:

What appears to be occurring is that Lee seems to be taking advantage of some delayed-funding mechanism under the law in order to hang onto cash a little longer (gotta find SOME way to pay for those bonuses, right?).

Obviously the Guild is disappointed that the employer would delay fully funding pensions – something our members spent a lifetime earning and something that needs to be there for them at the end of their careers – and wishes they wouldn’t engage in such financial sleight-of-hand but they are within their rights, it appears.

On Monday — shortly after receiving this news — somebody sent me a link to a Lee website about “the downsides of unions.” It states: “We do not believe union representation is necessary, desirable or in the best interest of our employees.”

According to one former employee, the company threatens to fire staffers who even mention union.

* After paying big bonuses, Lee delays funding pensions
* Lee editor threatened to fire me for union talk
* LeeUnionFree.net