Staffers at WFTS-Ch. 28 to take temporary one-week pay cut
Staffers at Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 will see their pay temporarily cut by one week, as owner E.W. Scripps Co. implements a similar salary reduction at all 10 of its TV stations across the country.
In exchange for the pay reduction, which will be implemented over June and July, employees will receive five additional paid days off to be taken between Monday and July 26.
The company took this step instead of implementing the furloughs seen at rival Gannett Co. and other companies, and spread out the economic impact for employees, said WFTS general manager Rich Pegram.
"This way, an employee doesn't see half his biweekly paycheck gone at once," said Pegram, who added the pay cut would help Scripps avoid widespread layoffs. "We had every expectation that the second quarter would be a bounce-back period for us economically. But considering what's happened to the automotive sector this week, its obvious things will remain tough for the rest of the year."
Last week, Scripps announced revenue from the company's TV stations dropped 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earlier. Overall, the company lost $221 million; Scripps closed Denver's Rocky Mountain News newspaper in February.
Click below to read a message to staffers from Brian Lawlor, the top Scripps executive running the company's TV stations:
When I began my transition into my role as head of TV, I had the opportunity to visit your station. During our station meeting, we discussed our plans for the future and the state of the business, including the competitive and economic challenges facing our industry. Since then, conditions have continued to deteriorate. After six months of trying to manage through the market and industry downturn, we now are forced to deal with the reality of our division’s first quarter losses and weaker than expected outlook for the coming months.
As a result, all salaried and hourly television employees will take a temporary pay reduction equivalent to one week of their current annual base pay. The temporary reduction will begin May 18 and will be reflected in your June 5 paycheck. The temporary payroll reduction will conclude with the July 31 paycheck. We wanted to spread the deductions over multiple paychecks in hopes that it would make it easier for you rather than having an entire week of pay reduced from one paycheck in one lump sum.
In exchange for reducing your pay, you will receive five additional paid days off to be taken between May 18 and July 26 (please note that these five additional days will be paid at the reduced rate). The days off may be taken off incrementally throughout this period with your supervisor’s approval.
This reduction in pay is not intended to be permanent; it is meant to be an adjustment due to economic conditions to help the company manage our businesses in the short term while focusing on long-term growth. As with any aspect of our business, we will continue to evaluate how we operate and make decisions accordingly.
Please know that this decision was very difficult and one that we hoped we would not have to make. We value all of your contributions on a daily basis and know you believe in serving our communities with a relentless pursuit of the news and service. Our focus has not – and will not – change. This focus is evident in our strategies, specifically with our commitment to strengthening our product through the implementation of the “Newsroom of the Future.”
Scripps is in this for the long haul; we just need to work together to get through this incredibly challenging period. Attached you will find a guide that I anticipate will answer many of your questions. I appreciate your understanding and support.