Gannett furlough could save 600 jobs
“Don’t be too hard on Gannett,” I told my pal Jerry Ceppos, the former vice president of news for Knight Ridder who now helms the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada in Reno. “The company has come up with a constructive way to save several hundred jobs.”
Gannett said yesterday that it would require most of its employees to take off a week without pay before the end of March. The alternative to the shared pain – and I recognize that it will be a pain in more ways than one – would be for the company to eliminate approximately 600 more jobs than the roughly 7,000 positions it has scrapped since 2007.
Gannett declines to discuss the economics of the initiative, but here’s how I estimated the number of saved jobs:
Assuming Gannett’s payroll is equal to 20% of its $7 billion in revenues in the last 12 months, then one week’s payroll is worth about $27 million. If the salary of the average employee is $45,000 per year, then the company would have to eliminate some 600 jobs to achieve the same level of savings as the furlough.
With all due respect to Jerry Ceppos, Gannett’s furlough plan is a better deal for the company than what an automaker could achieve.
When Detroit tells people to stay home because no one is buying cars, most unionized employees get so-called “supplemental unemployment benefits” from the Big Three that pay them almost as much as they would have made if they were actually working.
The fact that this is a good deal for Gannett means it is a bad one for its staffers. Because most Gannett employees are not unionized, they will have no choice but to accept the furlough – and they won’t be paid anything for the time they have lost.
On the other hand, one hopes, they’ll still have their jobs when they get back. And a week worth of unanswered email.