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Gannett Furlough Has Employees Worried

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Gannett employees and management are scratching their heads as they try to figure out how they are going to manage an order to put its non-unionized employees in the United States on a week of unpaid leave sometime this quarter and still their publications out.

“We are doing this to preserve our operations and continue to deliver for our customers while confronting the issues raised by some of the most difficult economic conditions we have ever experienced,” chief executive and Chairman Craig Dubow said in an email to employees, according to Kelly Nolan of The Wall Street Journal.

Nolan reported that the number of employees affected by the furlough was unknown, but Dubow said in the email that most U.S. employees, including him, would take five days unpaid leave sometime in the first quarter. Overall, Gannett has more than 31,000 employees, the report said. Workers in unions also will be asked to participate in the furlough, Gannett said.

Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher wrote today about how people inside the company, which owns USA TODAY, is going to make this work:

Coming off a recent salary freeze and a 10% workforce cut in late 2008, finding out each employee will lose a week of pay this year — and be unavailable for work — is another hit to take.

“People are concerned, but it is certainly better than layoffs,” said John Kridelbaugh, vice president of market development and digital at The Indianapolis Star. “We are working through the details and all of the business needs so we can continue to still put out a newspaper and a 24-hour Web site.”

Susan Patterson Plank, vice president of marketing for the Des Moines Register, said between her paper, the nearby sister Iowa City Press-Citizen and local Gannett television outlets, some 800 employees are impacted. “Our managers are working through it,” she said, offering few details. “It will certainly be a challenge. But it gives us the chance not to have layoffs. For most people that is a good thing.”

Laura Rehrmann, Gannett Washington bureau chief, said logistics will be difficult for her staff of four editors and 19 reporters. She has already informed them of a sign-up sheet, but also a tongue-in-cheek directive that no one can take next week off.

“I am resigned that this is what the company needs to do in this economic climate,” she said. “We will do it in an orderly fashion so that it will not affect journalism.”

She added that “the week of Feb. 15, congress is on a break, so that might be a good time for some of our staff to be out.”


Written by newscycle

January 14, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Gannett

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