BY BOB HOLT
Revenue news hasn't gotten any better in the new year for one of New Jersey's biggest newspaper publishers. Gannett Co. Inc, told workers of its largest division Tuesday that they will have to take a week off without pay to avoid more layoffs as revenue continues to fall.
The furloughs during the first quarter will affect workers at the 81 newspapers that make up Gannett's U.S. community publishing division, including the Courier-Post. They will not apply to Gannett's flagship newspaper, USA Today, or to the Detroit Free Press.
The Courier Post reports that for now, the furloughs will only apply to non-union workers, but Gannett says it is contacting union representatives to discuss furloughs for the rest.
The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild reported that an email their unit received said that the company will be "communicating separately with union representatives to discuss the treatment of bargaining unit employees."
According to gannettblog.blogspot.com, Gannett's board of directors will likely pay top executives millions of dollars in bonuses this year, in part for making employees take unpaid furloughs during the current quarter, company documents show.
Last year, for example, the board of directors specifically cited furlough savings as a reason to award nearly $4 million in cash bonuses to the company's five highest-paid executives as part of their 2009 annual pay.
These are the fourth mandatory unpaid leaves the company has announced over the past two years. The current round also is the third consecutive first quarter in which GCI has required furloughs.
In the first quarter of 2010, the company saved $13 million via furloughs; in the first quarter of 2009, it was even more: $20 million.
Gannett newspapers from New Jersey include the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News at Bridgewater, Courier-Post at Cherry Hill, Home News Tribune at East Brunswick, Daily Record at Parsippany, and the Daily Journal at Vineland.