Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tip | I'm hearing more chatter about Q1 furloughs

One Gannett newspaper may impose a wage freeze, in addition to unpaid furloughs during the three months beginning about Jan. 1, according to a well-placed reader.

Since posting this item four days ago, however, it's now sounding more like any furloughs would be imposed on a case-by-case basis. That is, worksites doing well financially would escape them, while sites with weaker results would not.

As well, I suspect any mandatory unpaid time off would fall on the U.S. and U.K. newspaper divisions, rather than, say, the broadcasting division, which just completed a bang-up third quarter.

As always, I continue to look for further confirmation and details. Until then, this all remains informed speculation.

Furlough history
In 2009, GCI imposed a one-week, unpaid furlough across all U.S. divisions during the first quarter. Another furlough followed in the second quarter; that one, also for most U.S. divisions, called for one unpaid week for most employees, and a second week for other, highly paid workers.

This year, the U.S. newspaper division, Corporate and some other divisions were furloughed for one week, during the first quarter.


  1. Looks like they learned their lesson from imposing company-wide furloughs and layoffs. They hit some newspapers that are thriving economically and had a dramatic impact because, in effect, they punished the successful.
    But I also think that this economy isn't recovering to the extent that corporate wants, and there is going to be some dire consequences when the Christmas ads fail to show up. We have a long way to go before this economic contraction ends. It is not yet over as is clear from the latest foreclosure mess.

  2. I'm for this if it means that USA Today is going to carry its own freight for a change. At my paper we are all sick of feeling the pain because USA Today can't make its numbers.

  3. Furloughs save about 30 to 35 million for each week. If you take the five most highly compensated Gannett executives, add in publishers and managers at various GCI properties, and their bonuses along cost corporate at least 33% of that furlough savings amount. I know I know - managers take a pay cut like the rest of us in furlough time. but no one is taking away their annual bonus, are they?

  4. Bonuses should be eliminated. This should be something of a no brainer for any corporation. Feds should weigh in on this. No respectful person should receive or provide a bonus until the economy turns around.


  5. I think this is a plot by the Crystal Palace to avoid losing a week of their mega-paychecks. Making it site by site allows the execs to continue to pocket their incredible salaries.

  6. The rationale to date has always been "well, our paper is going OK but the group we are in not so much," so I would think it may be more than a newspaper by newspaper basis. Sad to say.

  7. If Martore was truthful when she cited the 20 percent margin, I don't see how furloughs can be justified anywhere. It's time for management to suck it up for a change!

  8. But ad revenues are down y/y in publishing, which is our big segment. This is why stock dropped on Friday even though profit margins look ok and earnings per share are up. Market knows those earnings are pumped by cuts, like consolidations, furloughs, cuts, etc. but realizes a drop in main revenues is not good. The question is whether that drop is due to Gannett issues, the migration of ads to elsewhere or a sign that the economy is slipping?

  9. I wonder how often Gannett has used furloughs on a case-by-case basis in its history.

    I arrived at Westchester in the fall of 1991 after Gannett closed the Arkansas Gazette, where I, Jim Hopkins and several hundred other journalists had been working.

    Within 6 months of my arrival in Westchester, the publisher there imposed furloughs. Details are hazy, but I think we might have had to take 2 furlough days a month for 3 months. Someone else might remember the details.

    There was a lot of unhappiness about the furloughs -- but having just had a paper close under me, I was not among those complaining.

    But as on ongoing management tool, I think it stinks. It's bad for morale and bad management.

  10. The Westchester furloughs amounted to THREE WEEKS of lost pay. I, too, was there.

    Then they had the nerve to ask employees to subscribe to the paper to boost their ciculation by whatever miniscule amount. No way after losing that much money! In fact, I never shelled out a cent for the paper again.

    If I sounded angry, I was. The icing on the cake came soon after when Sherlock got a company provided Mercedes sedan that included free gas, weekly washings/waxings and routine maintenance.

    Then, of course, were his seats for the Knicks, etc. etc.

    It's not just the past few years that Gannett's been a nesting place for corporate greed.

    Greed and nastiness are two of the main characteristics of many Gannett executives I've had the displeasure of encountering.

    And unfortunately, Westchester has been a stop over for many of them as they scratch and claw their way to the Crystal Palace.

    Anyone from Westchester remember how one of the former executive editors/vp, what's his name - seriously, I forget - used to leave every evening via the fire door?

    That used to set off the fire alarm every single damn night. And when one of the copy editors had the nerve to ask him to leave by the regular door, he started to fire her on the spot. Before he could, though, she quit.

    What was that jerk's name? I know he's still with the company somewhere.

  11. When the second round of furloughs were announced in 2009, a colleague turned to me during the meeting and said, "I'd rather have layoffs than furloughs." I told her, "I'd rather have furloughs. It seems more humane and you get a week off." She said, "We could accomplish more with layoffs though. There's lots of deadwood here to go."

    By the end of the year, she got her wish: She was laid off, along with a dozen others in our department. My exit date came a few months later ... And I practically SKIPPED out the building passed the security guard and exit door!

  12. There you go Jim, stir up some fake BS so a few more readers will worry click on your blog for answers which in reality is just more speculation from the tarrot card readers out there. Then you can make a few more dollars of ad money on the backs of Gannett employees. You're no better than those you attack.

    In fact, you are worse because you try to make it look like you are a martyr when you are realy no different - just another money-grubbing whore of the system.

  13. 8:18 Your corporate shill handiwork is everywhere on this blog. Is that what corporate pays you to do? Management has been unable to articulate a growth plan to Wall Street, unable to attract advertisers and is incapable of explain its transformation process at USAT, its highest profile product. Instead, management is promoting people like you to undefined jobs while destroying morale and employee trust. In the void that both Gannett and USAT managers have created and allow to fester the only semi-credible information that exists is the speculation and rumor lower level employees discuss. You may want to sit back and wait for the other shoe to drop while senior management prospers, but the rest of us are uncomfortable behaving like lemmings. If you don't like what you read on this blog, you have the freedom to go elsewhere.

  14. 9:43:

    I also have the freedom to call it like I see it. You missed my point because you are so blind.


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