In nearly every case, at least where furloughs are concerned, guild members have to approve the unpaid time off in order for it to take effect. Most guilds are going along with the idea, at least for the moment, with many members saying their newsrooms have been cut enough and don't want to have to work in a further depleted office — or worse, lose their jobs.Strupp goes on to report that unions increasingly demand newspaper owners open the books before they'll agree to absorb more benefit cuts. After the guild at the Denver Post combed through Dean Singleton's financials, they agreed to wage cuts of 6% to 9% and seven-day furloughs in each of the next three years.
"It is the best of a terrible range of options," says Tom Spalding, president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild and a business reporter at the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star. "You keep your job, your insurance, and the pay cut is not permanent."
But while many of those affected are willing to give up a little here and there to keep their jobs, the impact of cut salaries, frozen retirement funds and unpaid time off takes a psychological toll. "People come out of this very conflicted," says Jane Halpert, a psychologist who specializes in work-related issues at De Paul University. "They see all of the people who are losing their jobs and they still have a job, but at the same time they are being nickeled and dimed. And the paper tries to present this as a good thing — more days off. But it is not a vacation; it is temporary short-term unemployment."
Jun 6, 2009
In a "special report," Joe Strupp at Editor & Publisher looks at the furlough trend that swept through many newspaper chains earlier this year, as already decimated newsrooms looked for ways to save money without more layoffs: