Gannett furloughs employees, impacting The Commercial Appeal

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Gannett, publisher of USA Today, said Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, that its board has unanimously rejected a $1.36 billion buyout offer from a media group with a history of taking over struggling newspapers and slashing jobs. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Gannett media is furloughing employees across the company which is directly impacting employees for The Commercial Appeal.

Ryan Poe, columnist for The Commercial Appeal, tweeted the development on Saturday afternoon.

According to Poe, newsroom employees will be furloughed one week out of the month for the next three months.

Katherine Burgess, president of the Memphis Newspaper Guild, released a statement on the situation Saturday night:

On Monday, The Memphis Newspaper Guild was notified that Gannett is instituting company-wide furloughs. For the next three months, the company plans for employees making more than $38,000 annually to take a week of unpaid leave each month. None of us want to take time off, particularly during a global pandemic when good journalism is needed more than ever in our communities. Nonetheless, the Memphis Newspaper Guild has offered to accept the furloughs if Gannett were to agree to several conditions, including that:
 
– The Commercial Appeal will agree to have no further reductions in pay or workforce during the three-month furlough period.
– That any employee who cannot work due to being positive for COVID-19 will receive two weeks of full pay and benefits in addition to regular sick leave.
 
We believe our requests are reasonable. However, the company has not accepted them and is moving forward with the furloughs starting this Monday, without our permission and in violation of our contract.
 
We are concerned about being forced to take time off when we should be doing life-saving journalism. We’re also concerned about our rights being violated by Gannett. The Memphis Newspaper Guild plans to continue bargaining over the furloughs and appreciates the support of the Memphis community.

Burgess also said the company is essentially asking employees to take a 25% pay cut.

Burgess said on Saturday that the company had not agreed to the guild’s two requests.

Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, owns multiple newspapers across Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. Other newspapers impacted by these developments include: The Tennessean, The Jackson Sun and The Clarion Ledger.

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