Tribune Publishing furloughs employees in second round of cuts this month

Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun, is instituting furloughs for employees making as little as $40,000 a year in its second round of cuts this month.

All non-union employees making $40,000 to $67,000 a year will be furloughed for one week per month, CEO Terry Jimenez said in a memo obtained by the Post.

The latest move comes only 10 days after the company instituted pay cuts of 2 percent to 10 percent for all of its non-union employees making more than $67,000 a year as the coronavirus axes ad sales.

The company, which also owns the Orlando Sentinel, among other papers, said it’s negotiating with NewsGuild chapters for cuts at papers that are unionized, including the Tribune, the Hartford Courant and Baltimore Sun, among others.

The Daily News newsroom is not unionized.

The latest cuts follow voluntary buyout offers that went out to all newsroom staffers in February before the coronavirus shuttered the economy and shriveled ad revenues.

One staffer at the Daily News said that Robert York — who carries the title of editor-in-chief of both the Daily News and the Tribune-owned Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. — told News staffers at the time of the April 10 pay cuts that no more were on the way.

“York was emphatic that there would be no furloughs, which makes this so infuriating,” said one staffer. “If you don’t know or can’t make any promises, just say that. Don’t play with people’s lives like that.”

Tribune said Jimenez blamed the cuts on longer-than-expected quarantine orders.

“COVID-19 continues to have an unprecedented effect on our economy, our industry and our business,” Jimenez said in the letter. “Despite strong engagement with our journalism, the impact on advertising has been profound. Statewide stay-at-home orders have been extended beyond initial government orders, and as a result we will need to take additional measures to ensure the financial stability of the company.”

The company’s largest shareholder is hedge fund Alden Global Management, which controls newspaper publisher Digital First Media and has long had a reputation for making deep cuts to its news assets.

Jimenez said the furloughs “will be for three weeks for most positions and will be taken in one-week increments between May and July 2020.”

But that may not be the end of it. “We may also implement additional furloughs or extend the length of time for positions that have been disproportionately impacted by the slowdown or work activity brought about by the pandemic,” Jimenez said.

He also said that employees have the option to exit the company and receive severance in lieu of furloughs. For employees who opt to quit, their last day will be May 8.

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