Forget the Motor City: ‘Freep’ Will Not Implement Gannett Furlough

By: Joe Strupp

The Detroit Free Press, which is preparing for its March 30 cutback to three-day home delivery, will not participate in the Gannett furlough program, Publisher David L. Hunke told staffers in a memo.

The memo, issued Wednesday, was in response to the Gannett announcement that some 31,000 U.S. employees would be required to take a week off in the first quarter of 2009 without pay.

Hunke said that the need for staffers to help prepare for the March 30 change, in which the paper will deliver to subscribers only on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, requires everyone to keep working.

?We have tons of redesign and tons of selling and I can?t be losing people at this time,? Hunke told E&P Thursday. ?We are around the clock working toward March 30 and what will be a dramatic change.?

The Free Press and the JOA arm Detroit Media Partnership, both under Gannett control, have more than 2,000 employees, Hunke’s office revealed.

In his memo to workers, Hunke wrote:

?Most of you have probably seen or are aware of the announcement today from Craig Dubow that Gannett is implementing a furlough program whereby employees will be required to take unpaid leave for one week during the first quarter.

?Because of the intense attention and focus required to implement our strategic plan and meet our March 30 deadline, Detroit will not be included in the furlough program at this time. We very much appreciate Gannett?s support as we move forward with our transformation model.?

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