Employees of a sister newspaper to the Bloomington Pantagraph are demanding corporate leaders at the parent company give back their bonuses. Workers at the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch say Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck and CFO Carl Schmidt collected $750,000 in bonuses at a time of layoffs and cuts to retiree medical benefits. Shannon Duffy, the business representative for the United Media Guild, the largest union at the Post-Dispatch, says Lee's corporate leadership is out of touch with reality.
"I cannot believe that the board of directors thinks that taking a company when it's at 40$ a share, borrowing almost a billion and a half dollars to buy Pulitzer and then tanking that company deserves any kind of reward."
Lee's share price a decade ago was about $40 a share. It's now trading at a little above $1. Lee emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year, still with a billion dollars in debt, increased interest rates on the payments, and having reduced shareholder value by 13%. Duffy says the situation is deplorable and shouldn't be allowed to happen, but is perfectly legal.
"This is what's happening in America. You have these big corporations that are just running roughshod over their employees."
Duffy says the United Media Guild is sending a petition to Lee's Board, calling for the bonuses to be returned and invested in company employees. Employees of the Pantagraph have not gone public with sentiments about the bonuses. The Pantagraph is not unionized.
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