Monday, March 16, 2009

Raleigh News & Observer to lay off 78 employees, implement pay cuts... update: 27 in newsroom to be laid off

Publisher Orage Quarles III informed employees at The News & Observer that 78 employees will be laid off, and the paper will implement pay cuts and unpaid furloughs for the employees who remain. Via email, here is the announcement:

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.

To see the latest McClatchy layoffs, click here. Photo credit: goodnightraleigh.com

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh,Yea....and for those of you left, please work your tush off doing even more extra tasks for less money until MNI doesn't need you any more and remember to do it with a happy attitude, d--n it!

That applies to all remaining employees at all papers!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and for you subscribers, please cough up more $$$ for a smaller, inferior product.

That is smart bidness!

Anonymous said...

not to mention increase the prices to 75 cents daily and $2 sunday.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love this, "in work groups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the positions with the least tenure will be eliminated". So I guess what this means is we want you to screw your fellow worker so we don't feel so bad.

Anonymous said...

yup,the place is downhill..just found out a couple in the press dept(where i work) are getting the axe.plus the cutdown of the presses will make the paper look worst than it already does

Anonymous said...

Damn, that really sucks for Raleigh. Such a great product - it's going to suffer.

What about Charlotte? Haven't heard their numbers yet or did I miss them in a previous post?

Pg1News said...

Seattle PI goes online only. Last print edition Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

The publisher of The Charlotte Observer is on vacation, so don't expect to hear an announcement this week.

Anonymous said...

the thing that is brothering me the most is that they are taking our pay to pay for the cost to cut the press down and doing it with a smile on thier faces!!!

Anonymous said...

What publisher goes on vacation and leaves her entire watch paralyzed with fear and worrying about losing their jobs. It just shows the fact that they have no regard for the PEOPLE in their company. She should be there doing all she can to hold the Observer together - if that's possible. Another good example of poor leadership.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lexguild.org/

Lexington Herald-Leader has offered the union two options.

One includes wage cuts and eliminates 14 FTEs. The other doesn't have the wage cuts and eliminates 19 FTEs.

Details are listed at
www.lexguild.org

The union has put up a goofy counter offer involving some hare-brained furlough bank, so that people who want to work without receiving pay can donate the pay they would've received to a committee (made up of union and management officials) that would distribute the money to "the less fortunate." Is this the best idea the union can come up with?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
What publisher goes on vacation and leaves her entire watch paralyzed with fear and worrying about losing their jobs. It just shows the fact that they have no regard for the PEOPLE in their company. She should be there doing all she can to hold the Observer together - if that's possible. Another good example of poor leadership.

March 16, 2009 1:49 PM


Thank you, thank you, thank you whoever posted this!!!! I am one of those Char Obs employees left in the dark while my boss is on VACATION. Are you frickin kidding me? We are FREAKIN out and she goes on VACATION?????? WTF????

Anonymous said...

Yeah, she's on vacation. Why should she care. She's already announced that management is trying to outsource printing. In every meeting I've attended Ann Caulkins has basically said the newsprint is on its way out and the online edition is their focus.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Charlotte Observer publisher has decided not to return from vacation. It does seem odd she splits right before the ax falls.

Anonymous said...

Another Observer employee here and wondering the same,Ann doesn't listen to the "little people" she just listens to the "cutters" she brought in that have no idea what it takes to put out a newspaper.I hope when all is said and done which isn't going to be pretty the "cutters" get theirs.We all are so stressed and I mean all depts. it is pitiful and yes the rumors float about cutting the web to 44" here also after just going through a 3" cutdown less than three years ago at a cost of over 1 million dollars......now if that is good management then I need to be retaught how to do things.

Anonymous said...

The last web width reduction for the Observer was completed last summer.

Anonymous said...

Thought it had been longer than that,sure feels like it,anyhoo it still doesn't make any sense to me to "rape" the papers that are still very profitable even though revenues are down, and The Observer is just one of those papers.And with one of the longest cutoffs (23" and change) in the country a 44" web is going to look awful to say the least.And from what I hear certain workgroups are being protected...so I guess the area Employment Commissions are going to get busy again.......

Anonymous said...

I hear they laid off all the part time copy editors, and I know of one environment reporter (a position papers just cannot afford to have in these times.) Anyone know who else? Two positions will be eliminated in sports, but I understand the department got the packet and if no one accepts the buyout offer, they'll cut. What other positions have been cut?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3:55 - if the website is going to be our primary focus, it must be a top-secret skunkworks project. Our current "new and improved site" is just a regurgitation of the print product. Very little web-specific content. It's discouraging.

I keep thinking the day after the bloodbath, they'll come out of the glass boxes and say, "OK, now we're going to blow up what's left of the newsroom and finally get serious about online".

Nah... ain't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:26 there's nothing secret about it. She has repeatedly praised online and being a new "multi-media" company. Besides, if you give away your product online for free eventually people aren't going to pay for the newsprint. Which is the focus of this company. Pure online means no paper to buy, equipment to upkeep, or people to run the equipment.

Anonymous said...

Gary Pruitt, if you're reading this, you should fire the management team at the Charlotte Observer. They're the ones failing at their job, not the good, honest, hardworking folks who publish the news. Save them! And if you're merging Charlotte n Raleigh, let go of your reporters. You don't need that many!!! AHHHRGH already!