Gannett is forcing all employees to take five days of unpaid leave at the end of December and actively recruiting volunteers to take a buyout package as the company seeks to reverse major losses and tumbling stock prices.
The moves come in advance of Gannett announcing their third quarter earnings. The company lost $54 million in the second quarter and their stock is trading today at $1.37 per share, a 77.5% decrease over the last year. The company is carrying debt of over $1 million.
Over the last three months, over 400 Gannett employees nationally were laid off and eliminated another 400 open positions were eliminated.
In an e-mail to employees sent from CEO Mike Reed on Wednesday that was obtained by Poynter, employees were also notified that the company has suspended their 401 (k) match as of October 24 and of hiring freeze, “with the exception of key revenue and operating roles.”
“The company continues to face headwinds and uncertainty from the deteriorating macroeconomic environment which has led the executive team to take further immediate action,” Reed said.
Reed announced that employees may request “an adjusted work schedule with fewer hours, commensurate with a 20% reduction in compensation.” Gannett is also permitted a 1-6 month unpaid sabbatical where their team may still retain health benefits “by paying a portion of premiums.”
But these cuts won’t apply to most of the New Jersey-based Gannett newspapers that have voted to unionize, including the Bergen Record, Daily Record, New Jersey Herald, Home News Tribune and Courier-News.
News Guild President Jonathan Schleuss said that union members currently bargaining for their first contracts “are protected by the status quo.”
“The company cannot unilaterally make changes without negotiating with workers,” said Schleuss. “For folks under a contract, it depends on what your contract says and most of the issues need to be bargained. The company said it plans to bring up these cuts in negotiations.”