USA Today Makes Employees Take A Payless Week, Freezes Wages

usa today tbi

Things just keep getting worse for USA Today.

Publisher Dave Hunke just sent the following memo to his 1,000-plus employees, in which he announced that they must take an unpaid leave of absence for a week sometime during the four months between Feb. 28 through July 3.

Also, the year-long moratorium on pay increases which went into effect on Feb. 1, 2009, will be extended for “a minimum of an additional 90 days.”

Like every other newspaper in the country, USA Today has had a rough year.

The paper was surpassed by the Wall Street Journal as the most read U.S. newspaper and its fourth-quarter paid advertising pages fell 10.5%, according to the Gannett Blog.

Here is the memo, as posted on the Gannett Blog:

To: USA TODAY Colleagues
Fr: Dave Hunke
Dt: February 11, 2010

As you’ll recall, USA TODAY took a number of significant cost containment steps approximately one year ago in reaction to the rapidly deteriorating national economy. Among the decisions, we specifically instituted furloughs and a wage freeze. Recently, some business conditions have improved slightly. That’s a good sign. However, national advertising revenues in general were still down from the previous year as were paid advertising pages at USA TODAY. Business travel and hotel occupancy, and consequently, circulation sales continued to be lower in Q4 — all the while the nation’s economic recovery still appears inconsistent and unsure.

As a result, USA TODAY will implement the following steps:

All employees will be furloughed for one full week (Sunday through Saturday) during the time period of Sunday, February 28 through Saturday, July 3, 2010. To be clear, a furlough means no one will be permitted to work while on furlough and no one will be exempt, except for business necessity. That means when you are on furlough, there is no work, no office phone calls, no voice mail, no e-mail and no PDA checking. Exempt, salaried employees must take one full payroll week within the pay period. Non-exempt, hourly employees can take five days at any pre-approved time. All furloughs must be completed by July 3rd. If you are not sure which category you are in, check with your manager.

The one year moratorium on pay increases which went into effect on February 1, 2009, will be extended for a minimum of an additional 90 days. We will evaluate business conditions on a quarterly basis and institute a fair and equitable compensation increase plan as soon as conditions permit. This is a top priority and we will do our best to keep you well informed on our progress.

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