The Gannett Company, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, said on Wednesday that it would force thousands of its employees to take a week off without pay in an effort to avoid layoffs.
Gannett, which owns 85 daily newspapers across the United States including its flagship USA Today, said it could not say exactly how many people would be required to take time off, or how much money the company would save. But it said it would require unpaid leave for most of its 31,000 employees in this country.
Also on Wednesday, USA Today notified its staff of a one-year pay freeze for all employees.
“Most of our U.S. employees — including myself and all other top executives — will be furloughed for the equivalent of one week in the first quarter,” Craig A. Dubow, the chairman, president and chief executive, wrote in a memorandum to employees.
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“We sincerely hope this minimizes the need for any layoffs going forward,” he added.
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The company cannot impose the measure unilaterally on employees covered by a union contract, but Mr. Dubow said Gannett was asking unions to participate voluntarily. Tara Connell, a company spokeswoman, said about 12 percent of Gannett’s domestic employees were unionized.