You'll recall that I heard considerable chatter in October about another round of mandatory one-week furloughs coming during the first quarter -- now, just two weeks away. That speculation died down amid the recent newspaper layoffs, leaving me to conclude any furloughs are on hold.
Not so fast, says an in-the-know reader, in an e-mail with the subject heading, "rumor control." My reader offers the following scenario, which starts with the arrival of this month's P12 financial summaries: "Once they get in the P12 reports," the reader says, "they'll know what the status is and announce the furloughs, meaning the sites will have to scramble to cram all the furloughs into 10 weeks instead of 12. That's what happened the first year."
Another plugged-in reader tells me: "I still hear they are planned. Guess it's possible to move to Q2, but my sources still tell me Q1."
I remain a bit skeptical. It's true Gannett's first-ever round of furloughs, in 2009, was disclosed a full two weeks after that year's quarter started.
But this year's first-quarter furlough was announced a full month before it took effect, in this Dec. 1 memo from Bob Dickey, so everyone would have more time to plan. Corporate already knows overhead's shooting higher in the months ahead, given expected newsprint price increases, so it seems likely the decision has already been made.
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.