MEMO TO: All Employees
FROM: Orage Quarles III
DATE: March 16, 2009
SUBJECT: Staffing and Wage Reductions
A week ago, when our parent company announced that further expense savings and staff reductions were necessary, we promised to communicate specifics about our plans as soon as possible. Today, we are announcing staff reductions and other expense savings.
Over the next several weeks, The News & Observer will reduce its workforce by 78 positions, or 11% of all employees. These reductions affect most areas of our operation. Some positions will be eliminated through layoffs, and some departments will have opportunities for employees in certain work groups of two or more to accept a voluntary severance package. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, work groups will be reduced according to length of employment.
The employees who are affected are being told today and given information about a transition package. We appreciate all that these coworkers and friends have done for The N&O, and we will make their transition as smooth as possible.
Please know that we are doing all we can to lower our expenses and minimize the need to eliminate jobs. We are reducing our newsprint use whenever possible without affecting our core content. Later this year, we will convert our presses to a 44-inch web and print a narrower version of our papers, which will also reduce newsprint expenses. We have expanded our community paper network, which serves several purposes, including a significant savings in our TMC mail costs. We are collaborating more with our colleagues in Charlotte and using technology wherever possible to create efficiencies. We have eliminated bonuses for the publisher and vice presidents for 2009.
We are taking two additional actions to reduce our payroll costs while preserving jobs. First, we will implement a graduated reduction in pay to take effect March 30, as follows:
Annualized Pay Percent Reduction
$25,000 - $49,999 2.5%
$50,000 - $99,999 5.0%
$100,000 and over 10.0%
Every employee will receive a letter with details about how their compensation is affected and will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Second, we are requiring most employees to take a one-week furlough between May 1 and October 31. Details about furlough logistics and procedures will be available the first week in April.
We are making our way through difficult times by making difficult decisions. It is never easy to say goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues, but we must make these additional cuts to sustain our company and adjust to new competitive and economic realities.
I know the last several weeks have been distracting and disrupting, and I apologize for that. We can only ask, with utmost respect and gratitude for all that you do, that everyone stays focused and continues to work hard to help our company make its way through these hard times and success in the long run.
Please contact human resources if you have questions about the severance program, wage reductions or furlough. Thank you.
More: -- cuts include 27 full-time newsroom positions.