Gray Television announced Wednesday that nearly all of its employees will be getting a pay increase of between 1.5% and 4% because revenue is rebounding faster than expected.
During the pandemic, the station group did not fire staff or ask for pay cuts, but it did freeze annual raises at the end of 2020.
When the year ended stronger than forecast, Gray paid a 3% year-end cash bonus to all full-time and part-time, contract and at-win, and union and non-union employees. (Corporate staff and officers were excluded.)
“Over the past few months, we have seen revenues return a bit better than expected, while expenses have largely remained in check,” Gray management said in a memo to staff that was obtained by FTVLive.
“Gray’s senior leadership believes that these improving trends warrant an unprecedented action on the company’s part,” the memo said. “In particular, effective July 1, 2021, we will increase hourly rates and salaries for the remainder of 2021 for all station, production company, corporate and shared services employees who did not receive a raise in 2021 over their 2020 pay.”
According to the memo, employees making less than $49,999 get a 4% increase, those making between $50,000 and $99,000 get a 2.5% bump and those earning $100,000 and above receive a 1.5% hike.
“The year’s turning out better than we thought and so we’re going to go ahead and pass along the raises,” Pat LaPlatney, president and co-CEO of Gray Television, told Broadcasting+Cable.
“There’s a labor shortage out there,” LaPlatney added. “Some of the jobs that are available might be appropriate for some of our employees. There are a lot that aren’t. But at the end of the day, it’s more about just doing the right thing.”
Wall Street often responds better when companies announce lay offs than when they increase their payroll, but LaPlatney said he hadn’t heard from any analysts about the decision. “I think they will end up looking at it as a positive at the end of the day,” he said.
Gray’s stock was up almost a point in afternoon trading Thursday.
The Gray memo also noted that many of the company’s staffers have gotten vaccinated for COVID and that would be good for business.
“The high vaccination rates among our employees are allowing us to return to pre-pandemic working arrangements among our co-workers in many workplaces across the country – and hopefully to return to such arrangements in all workplaces in the next few months,” the memo said. “We believe this return to normality will further improve Gray’s ability to serve its viewers, customers and communities, which in turn will strengthen our company even more.”
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