MediaNews Chain in Bay Area Latest to Order One-Week Furloughs

By: Joe Strupp

Just two weeks after Gannett instituted a mandatory one-week furlough for all employees, a major regional chain of MediaNews Group is doing the same.

The Bay Area News Group?East Bay, which includes nine daily papers outside San Francisco such as the Oakland Tribune, is informing staffers that they will have to take an unpaid week off during February or March, according to a memo first posted on the Romenesko site.

The note, from David Rounds, president and publisher of the group, states: ?In a further effort to help offset the continuing decline in revenue and position the company for future financial success while mitigating further job losses, I am announcing the implementation of a mandatory one (1) week furlough for employees to be scheduled during the period beginning February 1, 2009 and running through the month of March. All executives and management of the Company will be included. Each employee?s department head will determine the actual week an employee is furloughed.?

He adds, ?I realize that we are all working hard to overcome this difficult time. I know this action will create a strain on our personal budgets, and unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that a furlough will prevent any further layoffs.?

He does note that unionized employees under bargaining contracts are not required to abide by the furloughs unless their union agrees: ?All current labor agreements provide for layoffs. I am confident that our unions will agree to unpaid furloughs as a means of avoiding layoffs, to the degree that can be accomplished.?

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