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Vertis Communications to Close San Antonio Location

By December 18, 2008

Another day, another company that has to lay off workers. After good news about financial hiring and less foreclosures in November in Texas, some more bad news comes our way on the economic front, this time from Baltimore-based Vertis Communications.

A company spokesperson has announced that the printing and advertising services company is closing their San Antonio location, due in large part to the recent merger with American Color Graphics. ACG is currently under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, and the move is a part of a broader company reorganization in the hopes of emerging from bankruptcy. The merger also created a location overlap, and the closure of the S.A. location is necessary to stay competitive. Vertis is also under Chapter 11 protection.

The news will affect about 90 local employees. Movement to shutter the facility has been taking place since Dec. 9, with employees encouraged to seek other jobs within Vertis. Long-term employees were not left high and dry, as the company said they are providing them with extended financial support.

Comments

December 20, 2008 at 6:19 am
(1) John says:

I give a lot of credit to Vertis for taking care of loyal employees. It would be nice if more companies would follow Vertis lead in how to treat tenured workers. Its a little surprising seeing as how they’re Baltimore based.

December 22, 2008 at 3:13 am
(2) sanantonio says:

Thanks for stopping by, John! I agree, Vertis does deserve credit for taking care of their laid off employees. They could have easily given a shoddy severance and blamed the fact that they are in bankruptcy protection or something like that. But they didn’t, probably in the hope of getting some of them to stay with the company in other positions.

February 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm
(3) joe says:

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CONFIDENTIAL – FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY – DO NOT DISTRIBUTE
2009 COST SAVINGS PLAN
EMPLOYEE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
HEALTH OF THE COMPANY / INDUSTRY
Why is Vertis implementing these cost cutting measures?
The printing industry is facing its greatest difficulties in decades. For example, Valassis
announced its Fourth Quarter 2008 revenue was down 5.3%. Global printer
Transcontinental is eliminating 1,500 jobs and is instituting rationalization measures,
including hiring freezes, unpaid leave, reduced work weeks, as well as asking its executives to
work without pay for two weeks. Brown Printing is eliminating 8% of its employees, while
Quad Graphics is eliminating 500 employees.
In order to survive the worst economic environment of our generation, prudent
organizations have asked their employees to work with them during these tough times with
anticipation of a better future. It is our intention for Vertis not only to survive but to thrive
in the long run and these actions must be made now to ensure our future.
All aspects of our business have been scrutinized to uncover savings, including streamlining
our operations and continued right-sizing of our workforce to adjust for decreased volumes.
However, despite these actions, we are faced with the reality that further measures are
absolutely necessary. These additional cost saving measures are being undertaken companywide
to maintain Vertis’ financial strength.
Aren’t there other things the company can do to save costs? Several other steps are
being taken to reduce our costs. Work is being consolidated among our production facilities
and we are continuing to implement staff reductions where appropriate. We have stopped
all spending that is not essential to our ability to serve our customers. We are in negotiations
with our suppliers to reduce the costs of the materials we obtain from them and we are
leveraging our Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma tools to achieve efficiencies wherever
possible.
Does this mean the company is failing? No, we are taking these actions now to protect
the viability of Vertis Communications in these uncertain economic times.
Did our 2008 financial restructuring and merger cause this problem? Was it a
mistake? No, this situation was not caused by our financial restructuring and merger. In
fact, we were able to reduce our combined debt by nearly $1 billion. If anything, our merger
will help us to more effectively weather this storm as we have an increased customer base,
expanded product offerings, reduced debt and additional talent and resources.
What are other companies doing? This economic climate and extremely tight credit
market have caused several well-known corporations to liquidate their assets, including
Circuit City, Linens ‘n Things and Goody’s Family Clothing. Over the last two weeks,
General Motors announced it would lay off 57,000 employees and cut salaried employees’
base salaries three to seven percent in 2009. Technology firm, AMD (Advanced Micro
Devices), is cutting all employees’ pay, including 15% for top management and vice
presidents, 10% for other salaried employees, and 5% for hourly workers. In January alone,
companies announced more than 598,000 U.S. job losses, taking the unemployment rate up
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to 7.6%. The latest government data indicates 1.8 million job losses November 2008 –
January 2009, or half of the 3.6 million jobs that have been lost since the beginning of 2008.
In short, all organizations are adjusting their business plans, staffing levels and budgets.
TUITION REIMBURSEMENT
If Vertis is eliminating tuition reimbursement, does that mean the company is not
supporting employees’ career growth? Vertis is a strong proponent of promoting from
within. Employee development is a corporate value and we will continue to conduct inhouse
training and development programs. Supervisors and managers may also approve
budget for staff members to attend technical training and industry-sponsored seminars.
UNPAID LEAVE PROGRAM
Am I able to take my unpaid leave in smaller hourly increments so I can minimize
the loss in pay on a single paycheck? Unfortunately, reducing the hourly increments of
time off to include partial shifts or half days will not be possible due to production and
scheduling issues at each location. Therefore, employees are directed to take their unpaid
leave times according to their shift schedules for non-exempt employees and in one week
increments for exempt employees.
Are exempt employees able to take their leave in one day increments? No, exempt
employees must take their unpaid leave in one week increments. However, they may apply
any vacation accrual towards their unpaid leave, but it must be part of the full week of leave.
They must take the required time off in eight hour increments as part of the one week leave
(Request Forms and instructions are posted on the Intranet under “Cost Savings Plan” and
the signed form must be submitted to the Payroll Service Center by Fax 972.373.4097 or email
at hrprsc@vertisinc.com).
How do I apply my accrued vacation towards my two weeks of leave so that I will be
paid all or part of the time off? Please go to the Intranet or Kiosk under “Cost Savings
Plan” and follow the instructions to document your leave and accrued vacation. Contact the
Payroll Service Center via phone 866.491.3456 or e-mail at hrprsc@vertisinc.com if you
need more information.
If I am part of the Executive Leave Program, how can I keep track of the unpaid
time versus the rest of my paid leave? Please use the form posted on the Intranet under
“Cost Savings Plan.” Contact the Payroll Service Center via phone 866.491.3456 or e-mail at
hrprsc@vertisinc.com if you need more information.
Can an exempt employee take an unpaid leave week that includes a company paid holiday?
No, the time off must be within a calendar week that does not include a company paid
holiday. A calendar week is defined as Sunday – Saturday.
Will shut down days, sick days or call offs count towards my two weeks of unpaid
leave? No, the two weeks of unpaid leave program can not include shut down days, sick
days or call offs.
May I take my two weeks of unpaid leave at the same time before June 12? Yes, we
encourage you to schedule your leave with your supervisor’s approval in the manner that
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best suits your needs, while accommodating our customers and facilities’ production
schedules.
I took vacation in January/February, can that time off be used towards my unpaid
leave? Non-exempt employees on an accruing vacation program who took vacation
between January 4 and February 19, 2009, and had the corresponding number of hours in
their vacation accrual can apply this time towards their required two weeks of unpaid leave.
Exempt employees can apply vacation time but not less than a total of 40 hours. Please go
to the Intranet under “Cost Savings Plan” for instructions on how to document and submit
the time off using your accrued vacation. Contact the Payroll Service Center via phone
866.491.3456 or e-mail at hrprsc@vertisinc.com if you need more information.
What if one of my co-workers schedules the same days off as I plan to take?
Employees must schedule their time off with their supervisors/managers as soon as
possible. Supervisors/managers will need to determine the schedule that will best meet the
needs of customers, production schedules and the company. Generally, employees’ requests
for leave will be honored in the order they are received.
What if I am or my department is too busy for me to take unpaid time off before June
12, 2009? Your supervisor/manager will determine the schedule that will best meet the
needs of customers and production schedules.
Can I check e-mail and voice mail while I am on my unpaid leave? Employees at all
levels within the organization must NOT engage in any work related activity during their
unpaid leave, including checking voice mails, e-mails, participating on conference calls, etc.
Employees with e-mails and voice mails should activate the approved out-of-office messages
found below.
OUT-OF-OFFICE E-MAIL MESSAGE
I am out of the office, returning [insert date]. I am unable to check e-mail or voice mail so
please contact [insert the name(s), phone number(s) and e-mail address(es)]. Thank you.
OUT-OF-OFFICE VOICE MAIL MESSAGE
You have reached the voice mail of [name] at Vertis Communications. I am out of the
office, returning [insert date]. I am unable to check voice mail or e-mail so please contact
[insert the name(s) and phone number(s)]. Thank you.
Will I still receive my vacation time if I leave the company? Yes, Vertis will continue to
pay out accrued vacation at the pay rate in effect at the time of your departure.
Can I claim unemployment for unpaid leave time? Check with your state
unemployment office, they will advise you of the state regulations.
PERSONAL HOURS
If I do not use my personal hours for 2009, will they still be paid out in January 2010?
Yes, we anticipate continuing the practice of paying out unused personal time.
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MERIT INCREASE SUSPENSION
Why must I participate in a review process if I will not receive a merit increase in
2009? Participating in the employee review process this year will allow your
supervisor/manager to document your achievements and, where necessary, assist in creating
development plans. This job performance review will facilitate future advancements and
rewards.
MAXIMUM PAY RANGE
How will I know if I am being paid over the maximum pay range? The majority of
employees are being paid within their pay range. Employees whose pay exceeds the
maximum of their pay range will be notified.
If I am over my pay range, how much will my pay be reduced? Employees whose pay
exceeds their range and whose most recent appraisal is at Meets Expectations or below will
have their wages reduced to the maximum of the pay range (but no more than 15%).
If my wage/salary is over the maximum pay range, will I also receive the percentage
pay decrease? Your pay reduction is going to be the greater of the amount you are over the
maximum for your pay range or the across board pay cut that applies to your income level.
However, your total pay decrease will not exceed 15%.
HOURLY WAGE / SALARY REDUCTIONS
Is this a temporary wage reduction? Your rate of pay beginning the first full pay period
in March 2009 will become your new hourly wage or salary going forward.
How was the amount of decrease determined? As mentioned, the percentage decrease
was based on earnings level. Higher compensated employees will receive a higher
percentage of decrease.
Base Pay % Decrease
$25,000 or under 0 decrease
More than $25,000 – $50,000 6% decrease
More than $50,000 – $75,000 6.5% decrease
More than $75,000 – $100,000 7.5% decrease
Greater than $100,000 9 – 9.5% decrease
Will this pay reduction also apply to any vacation, personal hours and holiday pay
that I take for the rest of the year? Yes, vacation, personal hours, holiday pay and other
leave are based on your pay rate at the time it is taken.
Will garnishments such as child support, liens, attachments and bankruptcy
payments that are automatically deducted from my paycheck be adjusted?
If the garnishment is a set amount, you may choose to contact the creditor to discuss your
options. Please use the template letter posted on the Intranet under “Cost Savings Plan” to
provide your creditor with details about the reduction in your pay. If the creditor agrees to
make changes to your garnishments, they should issue a revised order and submit it to the
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Vertis Payroll Service Center via e-mail at hrprsc@vertisinc.com or call 866.491.3456. If the
amount of the garnishment is based on a percent, then the calculation will be based on the
reduction of the available pay subject to garnishment.
I am out on disability right now; will my disability benefit be reduced? No, your
benefit will not be impacted. Disability benefits are based on your rate of pay at the onset of
the disability.
I cannot afford this decrease in earnings and must immediately look for another job.
We know that receiving a salary reduction may be challenging, but these cost savings
measures are necessary in this economic climate and to offset the declines of our industry.
We hope we can count on you to continue to place your confidence in our company.
When I agreed to join Vertis, my employment offer clearly stated a salary level. Can
you reduce my pay now? When you were hired by Vertis, the company had every
intention of paying your starting salary based on the business conditions at that time. If it
were not for the extraordinary nature of today’s financial conditions, we would not require
pay reductions for any period of time. If you have a question regarding your individual
employment situation, please contact your Human Resources Manager.
BENEFITS
What if I take consecutive unpaid weeks within the same pay period and no benefits
are deducted? The Benefits Team will follow up to make arrangements with you to make
up the missed deductions on a future paycheck. However, the 401(k) deduction will not be
made up.
What if I want to change my benefit selections as a result of this announcement? If
you have already submitted your 2009 Open Enrollment election, you may change it. All
changes of this nature must be made prior to the close of the Open Enrollment period.
Contact the Benefits Team at 866.628.5678 or e-mail YourBenefits@vertisinc.com
BEFORE February 20, 2009 so they can reset your benefit selection.
Can I change my tax withholding? Yes, complete a new W-4 for federal taxes (form is
posted on the Intranet in the Human Resources Department section) and submit to the
Vertis Payroll Service Center. After February 26, please log onto PeopleSoft at
http://psoft1.vertisinc.net:8080/HR81/signon.html and you can choose to change your
exemptions at any time.
Can I stop making contributions to my 401(k) account? Saving for retirement is more
important than ever. The 401(k) plans are a convenient way for employees to save for
retirement. Despite the suspension of the company match and the stock market
fluctuations, employees are encouraged to use the Plan to save for retirement. However, if
you decide to stop making contributions you can do so at any time. Employees who
participate in the Vertis plan administered by Mercer should contact Mercer directly at
800.685.6401 or go online at http://www.ibenefitcenter.com. Employees who participate in the
American Color plan should contact Fidelity directly at 800.835.5095 or go online at
http://www.401k.com. Employees who choose to stop contributing at this time can begin making
contributions to their 401(k) again at any time.
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If I cancel my 401(k) deduction today, when will it show up in my paycheck?
If a legacy Vertis employee wants to reduce or stop his/her 401(k) deferral, s/he should
contact Mercer by calling 800.685.6401 or go online at http://www.ibenefitcenter.com to record the
change. When the change has been made, contact the Vertis Benefits Team at 866.628.5678
to help accelerate the change in the payroll system. Please note that the change can be made
in PeopleSoft only after we can see the change in Mercer’s system. It may take a day for the
Mercer system to record the change. The change must be made before payroll is processed
the Monday before you receive your check. If a former American Color employee wants to
reduce or stop his/her 401(k) deferral, s/he should contact Fidelity by calling 800.835.5095
or go online at http://www.401k.com to record the change. When the change has been made,
contact your Human Resources Representative to help accelerate the change in the payroll
system. The change must be made by the Friday before payroll is processed before you
receive your check (which is every other Friday). The HR Rep should then send Jacki
DiPirro an e-mail (jdipirro@vertisinc.com) with the employee’s name and the change to be
made to the deduction. The change can be made only after we can see the change in
Fidelity’s system.
What about my life and disability benefits, will they be reduced based on my lower
pay rate? Life insurance coverage and disability benefits are always paid at your rate of pay
at the onset of the triggering event.
Thank you for all you do in support of Vertis. With your help, we can achieve our 2009
goals and look forward to a more stable 2010.

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