Monday, March 23, 2009

Bulletin: Gannett freezes wages, adds Q2 furloughs; Wants layoffs averted, despite 24% revenue slide; Employees furious: Outrage now 'off the charts'

Jim says: This is a write-thru; many comments on this first post.

Gannett's dramatic steps today apply to nearly all 41,500 worldwide employees, for at least one week in the second quarter, the nation's beleaguered No. 1 newspaper publisher said today.

"Our revenue numbers continue their downward slide and we have been faced with more difficult decisions,'' Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow (left) told employees in a memo.

The wage and salary freeze applies at least to the U.S. newspapers, the company's biggest unit; it is effective April 1 through March 31, 2010, division President Bob Dickey told the 29,000 employees in a separate memo. Those division employees earning $90,000 and above must take two weeks without pay in the second quarter. Division employees at Corporate in McLean, Va., must take one week of unpaid leave and also will have a temporary pay reduction equivalent to one week's pay.

Gannett's move this morning is the 102-year-old company's latest bid to contain costs, after revenue plunged 24% in the first two months of this quarter.

Wall Street investors rallied -- although, on a day when stock markets overall rocketed higher. GCI soared 9.8%, closing at $2.35, up 21 cents. The Dow Jones industrials and the S&P-500 index were both up 7% at the close.

But employees raged soon after the announcement, made just five days after Corporate disclosed that the board of directors paid $2 million in all-cash 2008 bonuses to Dubow and the other top four executives.

"Feds should DEMAND a clawback of the board's ill-gotten bonuses," said Anonymous@2:20 p.m. "The outrage in my unit towards this is off the charts, especially after today's announcement.
It's worse than taking a private jet to DC to ask for bailout money."

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  1. Wonder if Detroit will get excused again?

    The editor here keeps handing out more and more salary to people ("designers," metro editors) to stay when they're tanking as bad as anyone else.

  2. Why are all these furloughs and other measures are being taken now. Why weren't they deployed back in fall, before thousands of jobs were lost at Gannett properties? Can someone please explain that to me?

    So many people lost their jobs at Gannett in December. I just don't understand why Gannett went to the nuclear option first, and is now beginning to fight a ground war. Seems this company got it backwards, and by doing so, lost a ton of good folks back in December. Folks we could have really used right about now.

  3. It is time, as employees of this company, to take a SOLID and united stand. In the end, we are the ones keeping this company afloat, not Dubow and Dickey. We need to protest at our loudest about these bonuses Dubow and others got. The company as a whole is still making money, yet they're making us take more unpaid leave. It's just not fair. Want me to work for less? OK, I'm going to work slower and more inefficient because, well, I'm not being rewarded for a company that should be jumping for joy that it's making ANY money at a time when others aren't. The "G" in Gannett surely stands for GREED! It's a sad, sad day!

  4. I'm happy to have a job, so if salary freezes and furloughs keep me employed another quarter, that's fine with me.

  5. this post has incorrect information - if you would bother to read the announcements you might have a chance of getting the information in your posts correct. the incorrect information is associated with you statement about corporate furlough.

  6. @3:19

    Just post the incorrect info that you know about, rather than playing Easter egg hunt.
    Thank you

  7. @3:33 - happy easter...

  8. To Detroit hater:
    Our salary has been frozen for over a year in Detroit. You don't know what you are talking about. We did several buyouts over the past few years that have DECIMATED our staff. We are incredibly UNDERSTAFFED right now so you have NO idea what you are talking about. Our circulation is among the highest and Gannett and we at least our publisher is willing to try something different than just lay people off to cut expenses. They 3-day a week home delivery is going to set the standard for the industry and I believe will save it. I actually took less pay to work at the Freep so again don't say people are overpaid when you are clueless. How would you know. Do you work here. If you do I encourage you to leave because we don't need assholes like you around. We are working our asses off at the Freep to save our lives. You can rot.

  9. Detroit may work its ass off, but it's also the first to whine and complain and want exceptions to everything else.

  10. 4:04, respectfully:

    Nobody hates Detroit, quite the opposite. But though some may have taken pay cuts and we may have been decimated, favorites of the editing suite have been rewarded with bonuses that, on a percentage basis, are way up there.

    I'm sorry if you're another who isn't in the Northville Country Club, but the fact that we're suffering doesn't mean that all suffer equally. Quite the opposite.

    And we may be working our asses off, but it doesn't really matter anyway because the Country Club will do what it wants anyway.

  11. How do you know Detroit complains. Where is YOUR evidence. I've NEVER worked with a better group of people.
    Did you see theie pay stubs or something. Nobody ever talks about raises they got. You are totally making up facts and assumptions. Detroit is actually underpaid for our workload and we are a proud group. I came on here because a bunch of heard about people whining on here about Gannett. It sure is true and I'm not coming back here to a bunch of crybabies. If you don't like it. Get out or move into management and see what you can do about it.

  12. Hey 4:04! There's 3 of your folks in Louisville that you can have back!

  13. I am a Former Detroit employee and I can tell you Freep staffers are grossly underpaid. Even by industry and Gannett standards. It is amazing how a newspaper that solid doesn't get money to show for it.

  14. This story says Craig Dubow took home 60 percent less in 2008 than in 2009. If this has been reported already here, Jim, please kill this comment; I haven't had time to read all the posts.

  15. 5:07, thank you.

  16. 5:02, your reasoning is because nobody TALKS about it it must not be true?

    Um, generally those who make massive overscale don't talk about it. They don't want to engender bad feelings among their lower-paid brethren. Not bad enough to say "no," though, when they get another handout.

    And sure Detroit is the finest collection of journalists ever to lose millions each year. So there you go.

    Nobody is saying you don't work hard or that you're a bad paper. But if you really think that everybody gets paid the same and whatnot, well, then you must be pretty young.

    As for the newspaper not "getting any money," you gotta make money before you can get any.

    Unless you're the editor's pet, that is. Then you get handed money just as a thank you for agreeing with him.

  17. I just wish 4:04/5:02 p.m. would acquaint him/herself with something known as the question mark.
    It's a funny sort of squiggly-looking thing shaped like this: ?
    Sheesh, with writing like that it's no wonder the Freep is going to three days a week.

  18. From the company's standpoint, I believe layoffs would have been a better option. Layoffs strike fear into people and those remaining tend to get quiet as opposed to furloughs which only anger people. With layoffs, the most upset people are gone. With furloughs, the anger is within the building(s). Surprised the corporate shrinks don't understand this simple concept.

  19. 6:16...looks like you must've been burned by the editor who is a pretty smart guy. I'd say shut up before we all figure out who you are. Detroit is struggling like no other right now because Michigan is in a Depression. We're working like dogs to save ourselves and others if this works. Do we like it? No. But we're happy to have jobs, unlike the rest of you whiners. You should be so lucky to work with people, and management, this focused and devoted. Detroit Hater and others who are trying to stir things up are not going to win this round. Quit if you hate the company so much. Please leave and don't look back!

  20. The payment of bonuses to puppet-master executives as they furlough workers and cut their pay is further proof that Gannett directors need to end the foolhardiness of running a chain, 1980s-style. The company can no longer afford to prop up a large and expensive headquarters staff at the expense of its newspapers and TV stations. The business units need to be cut loose so they can reinvest the money now siphoned off by Gannett. Gannett has already written down their value and taken a big hit on the balance sheet. It should at least test the waters and see what it can get for the papers/stations. As things stand, Dubow & Co. are baggage that the company can no longer afford.

  21. Glad Dubow was able to get that bonus. Wouldn't want to see him suffer.

  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. does the pay freeze mean they can't bludgeon unions into pay cuts? they're trying to cut indy wages 15%, which would more than wipe out the past decade's miserly raises to the fortunate few among the many hardworking staffers. what a crappy way to try to treat the survivors who are now carrying almost double their previous workloads.

    meanwhile, the bloodsuckers who've taken the company into the crapper get bonuses!

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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