St. Pete Times cuts employees' pay, plans layoffs
TAMPA - The St. Petersburg Times will cut many employees' pay by 5 percent temporarily and likely will cut some jobs in an effort to reduce costs and deal with a slowing economy. Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Tash announced the changes in a letter to the staff, the text of which was posted on the Times' website today. Tash said the company is trying to reduce payroll costs by about $1 million in the next five months. The savings would give the newspaper's executives time to evaluate the severity of the economic downturn and consider other, more permanent ways to save money, the letter says. Initially, the Times will reduce full-time employees' pay by 5 percent through January. The employees will, however, be given five extra paid days off during the same five months, Tash wrote.The company also will shorten the length of employee severance from the current maximum of 40 weeks' pay to a new maximum of 26 weeks. Finally, the Times likely will reduce jobs, Tash said in the letter, without giving more specifics. Times spokeswoman Jounice Nealy-Brown declined further comment and directed a Tribune reporter to the letter. Many newspapers nationwide are coping with sluggish advertising revenues and have contemplated such moves as job cuts and unpaid work furloughs. Richmond, Va.-based Media General, owner of the Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and WFLA-News Channel 8, imposed 15 unpaid furlough days on employees in June, to be taken before the end of the year. Media General's Florida operations also laid off 29 employees then.
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