Breaking: Furloughs at Westwood One


Employees of Westwood One got the news Tuesday in a letter from CEO Rod Sherwood, followed by a conference call to discuss additional Q4 pay cuts, on top of recent 5-15% salary cuts.

After describing some rough numbers, noting that WW1 is not yet seeing a turnaround in advertising, that Q3 revenue goals have been missed, and mentioning they wanted to avoid layoffs, Sherwood detailed the 2-pronged plan that is mandatory for all employees with a few exceptions for operational necessities:

A 5 day pay furlough (consecutive or broken up—employee choice) spread over 10 weeks. The first check that will be touched will be the 10/30 check for salaried. For hourly employees it will take effect 11/13. No vacation days can be substituted for furlough days.

Said David Hillman, EVP/Business Affairs and General Counsel: “So, to keep it simple, every other week from 10/12 to 12/20, your pay will be reduced by one day’s pay.”

Element two is an unpaid furlough–five days no work, no pay. “You will not be permitted to work at all. Turn off your cellphone and Blackberry. Two of those days will be Thanksgiving and the day after,” added Hillman.

Employees are being asked to schedule the three additional furlough days with their managers.

So the total Q4 furlough is 10 unpaid days.

Metro and WW1 network ad sales staff cuts will be rolling out separate cost-cutting plans and were announced separately. Part-time employees are not affected. AFTRA and Writers Guild unions are being contacted.

2010 Performance bonus plan
Hillman described it:

Employees will be eligible for additional money and vacation by staying with the company in 2010. The cash bonus will be equal to 5 days pay plus an additional 10%. No incentive, just by being there they are eligible. There will be one additional paid vacation day. The bonus will be paid in three installments—after 2/28, 4/30 and 6/30.

If laid off, the bonus will be paid on a pro-rated basis. The vacation bonus will be four paid vacation days in 2010—in addition to what they are already entitled to. One vacation day per quarter will be allocated.

The Employee Q&A session followed. Details to come, along with an RBR-TVBR observation.