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Sports editor's OT lawsuit against Gannett

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by gannettblog, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. gannettblog

    gannettblog New Member

    One way Gannett limits overtime pay expenses is by shifting work to salaried managers -- who don't get OT -- from hourly workers, who ordinarily do receive it.

    A federal court lawsuit against a Gannett newspaper in Alabama illustrates this issue. Former Sports Editor David "L.C." Johnson sued The Montgomery Advertiser last October, complaining he was fired for warning Executive Editor Wanda Lloyd that his reporters weren't being paid OT they had earned -- a violation of federal law.

    Johnson claims he sometimes worked as many as 80 hours a week after his department lost at least two assistant sports editor positions after the newsroom was restructured in 2007.

    Read more about the case in my new post today: http://tinyurl.com/33bqqnu
  2. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

    I know the suits at my former Gannett shop are paying attention to this one.

    Former workmates said they have gotten 3 separate e-mail reminders from the people in the biggest offices over the last week, saying that all OT has to be approved beforehand ... but that all time worked MUST be put down on the timecard.

    I'm guessing the timing on those reminders was not coincidental.

    Thanks, Jim
  3. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    People who work 80 hours a week and get paid for 40 are just . . . stupid.

    "But the work needed to be done."

    Perhaps. But the SE is only responsible for what work could get done in 40, because that's the number that goes to payroll each week (even salaried employees have their names on time sheets).

    If there is a beef about work not getting done, lay the blame at the "restructuring" that took bodies away from the work that needed to be done.

    But DO NOT work double time, do the work, and then complain about it. That argument will never work. The SE was never ordered to work 80. He just chose to because work that had been done at full staff in the past now needed to be done with less people. REDUCE THE WORK. DO NOT INCREASE THE HOURS.
  4. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    Several of these issues are on the table in our contract negotiations. The Guild found that with the layoffs and everything last year, there are now three supervisors to every one contract employee and that many supervisors are doing the work of guild-covered workers. Of course, management's response to that was their first money offer: 12% pay cuts. Joy to everyone.
  5. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    I hope Johnson wins his lawsuit.
  6. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Active Member

    Easy to say when your job is not on the line. But once you're in the position that these SEs (and yes, it's more than just this one) where your job depends on the work getting done, you do the 80-hour work week. The other option is to not do the work, get a bad evaluation and be put on a 90-day probation. Next step after that is usually losing your job, unless you buck up and work the 80 hours.

    The problem, and I'm in your corner here, is that the section is YOUR responsibility and it's on YOU to get it done. Gannett managers don't take excuses well, especially excuses about being understaffed. You tell them that you can't do it with only X number of people in X number of hours and they tell you that you're not working smart enough and you're not using your time efficiently.

    BTE, just curious, have you ever worked at a Gannett shop? And if so, were you ever a salaried employee?
  7. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    What BTE says is absolutely correct, of course. If only it could be that simple. We're a prideful group and a little bit nuts. We have to be, to be good at what we do. It is the right thing to say, "Screw it, we can't do that anymore." But we resist it because we take pride in the product and we have that "go the extra yard" gene in our makeup.

    When my old paper ordered furloughs last year, one of my former guys just went ahead and did his work anyway. His justification? It wouldn't get done otherwise. That's why he was so good at his job, it just wasn't in him to let things go. So he worked when he wasn't getting paid.
  8. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    If that's what it takes to be good at this job, pass. In fact, that was my exact reaction at my first job when I saw how hard the two editors worked. Not worth it. But I still admire those of you for whom it is worth it.
  9. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    I think upper management takes advantage of our prideful nature.
    They know they can keep slashing because we'll always just put in the extra hours to make it work.
    That has to stop.
  10. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Active Member

    And that, Moddy, is the main reason these corporate suits make those decisions. Because they know that most journalists are prideful people who are going to make the sacrifices needed to do their job the correct way.

    It's the double-edge sword of loving what you do just enough to not let go when you really need to.

    And I totally agree with BTE, also. But like you said, so much easier said than done. The ones who have said "Screw it! I'm not going to do it anymore!", I salute you. I'm just not to that point yet. Every day I inch closer though.
  11. Yes, let's hope Gannett takes this one right in the shorts.
  12. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

    Prideful both about getting the job done and putting out a good product, and about not screwing your friends and co-workers in the process.

    When I was a reporter, I knew (and everyone involved knew) that if I worked 40 and went home because of no OT being allowed, the 20 hours of work that remained would just get added to the 6-hour plate of my buddy in the cubicle next to mine.

    So when I worked OT off the clock (at Gannett, surprise), I looked at it from the perspective of saving my fellow employees, as well.
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