Gannett Orders Second Round of Furloughs

Newspaper publisher Gannett is forcing most of its workers to take another week of unpaid leave before July.

The furloughs spelled out Monday in a company memo are being imposed to avoid laying off more employees as Gannett tries to offset a steep drop in advertising revenue.

This marks the second time this year that most of Gannett’s 41,500 workers have had to give up a week’s pay. Most employees, including CEO Craig Dubow, were furloughed for at least five days during the first three months this year.

This time around, the owner of the USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers is requiring its higher-paid workers to relinquish up to two weeks pay during the April-June period.

Dubow’s memo to employees follows:

We are about to begin the second quarter without any real relief in sight from this unprecedented economic downturn and its challenge to our company. Despite all of your truly remarkable efforts to reverse the trend, our revenue numbers continue their downward slide and we have been faced with more difficult decisions.

One of those choices was between more layoffs or another round of furloughs. We chose, for most employees, a furlough program consisting of at least one week of unpaid leave to be taken in April, May or June.

The program will differ from the first quarter’s in a couple of important ways:

The length of the furlough for employees will vary somewhat by division or location, depending on the division’s operating needs and results.

Our higher salaried employees will be asked to make an additional sacrifice. This could be a second furlough week or a week’s furlough plus a temporary salary reduction equivalent to one week’s pay for the quarter, depending on the division and/or location.

Some hourly employees will not be required to take a full week. Each division or location will have different requirements for employees in this category.

Because of the variations, your division head will be the main source of information about your particular program. Memos will be going out shortly to each of you with specific details.

Corporate employees will be participating, as with the first quarter’s program, including all of our company officers and me. Corporate’s memo will come from Gracia.

There will be some exemptions, similar to the first quarter’s program. For instance, some locations that recently have had, or are in the midst of, layoffs or significant salary reductions will be exempt. Represented employees again will be asked to participate in lieu of layoffs.

As with our first program, we are doing furloughs to hopefully mitigate the need for layoffs and to preserve our operations in the face of these extraordinary economic times. We believe this is the best possible course, given the alternatives.

We also need to keep innovating, selling ads and reaching out to audiences to prepare for the return of the economy. When that happens, I believe we will be well prepared to move quickly and take advantage of the new opportunities.

Again, I must thank you all for your hard work, loyalty and dedication. I am truly looking forward to the day I can send an email that congratulates you on getting us through these hard times. That day isn’t here yet, but I believe it will be. So we must continue to do whatever we can to keep Gannett strong and prepare for the future.