For Hamilton to hastily order furloughs to be taken over such a short period of time indicates just how much pressure the company must be under to boost its bottom line before the end of the fiscal year (June 30). Indeed, Hamilton says in the same memo that LANG employees will be able to take an additional 5 paid holidays in the next fiscal year to make up for the short-term pain.
This leads me to wonder if this dramatic, last-minute action is related to a possible deal to buy the Orange County Register. LANG's parent company, MediaNews Group, is in a bidding war with the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, to buy the Register.
It's also likely the chain is simply trying avoid further layoffs, given the revenue demands of some of its investor owners, who agreed to swallow $765 million of debt as MediaNews emerged from bankruptcy last year. The furloughs and vacation freeze come a week after layoffs at the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Hamilton said the latest actions should keep future pink slips to a trickle:
...today's action does not preclude other cost reduction measures including and not limited to reductions-in-force. At this time such actions will likely be limited and will continue to be an expense reduction alternative until the economy and our performance measurably improves.The full memo is here.
As expressed in the past, we regret any inconvenience this action may cause you but until our financial challenges are clearly behind us, such actions are necessary.
(This post was edited)