NPR Takes A Cut

Like just about every other media company, NPR is asking its employees to make some significant cuts.

The company appears to have avoided widespread layoffs, for the moment, after reaching agreement with key unions for significant cuts in compensation. Managers and executives are taking similar, and at times, greater, reductions, all of which are geared to close a projected $8 million budget gap for this fiscal year and a projected $7 million budget gap for next year. Revenues from corporate underwriting have plunged from past levels during the current recession.

The cuts involve an elimination of contributions toward retirement accounts called 403(b)s (that's the non-profit equivalent of a 401(k) ) through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, and a halving of the benefit for the next fiscal year; five furlough days for most employees through the end of the fiscal year; the elimination of a cash subsidy toward health care insurance; and the elimination of most raises next year.

In addition, 11 employees in the legal, communications, IT and development offices were notified Thursday they had lost their jobs. But in an open forum with NPR's full staff, CEO Vivian Schiller said far greater layoffs were forestalled by the agreements to reduce compensation.

These cuts follow the December announcement of the cancellation of two shows and layoffs of 64 staffers, or about 7 percent of the company's workforce. The size of the budget deficit would actually be significantly greater had NPR not drawn $15 million from endowment funds for this year and another $15 million for next to cushion the blow of the loss of revenues.

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