There is said to be a lot of significant unhappiness within WWE right now over the employees who were furloughed back in April as a part of the company-wide business changes brought on by COVID-19.
There were furloughed office people who were told that they would be brought back earlier this month, but the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that most have had their furloughs extended until Friday, August 28. There are several employees who are looking to find new jobs.
WWE furloughed around 240 full-time non-wrestlers in mid-April as a part of the company-wide business cuts brought on by COVID-19.
The WWE producers and other workers who help with live events pretty much knew they would be out of work until the company resumes touring, but most of the other employees expected to be back at the start of July. Some of those workers have been brought back, but that’s a small number.
The basic argument is that the furloughs made sense in April due to the unforeseen prospects of the future amid the pandemic, because the WWE TV deals could’ve been in jeopardy if WWE missed a few weeks of TV, which didn’t happen thanks to Florida Governor DeSantis allowing WWE and other sports leagues to continue as essential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Observer. WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon was also “terribly fearful” that TV partners could cancel the TV deals if WWE didn’t air shows live. However, most of the concern was gone by July as FOX & NBCUniversal were not opting out of the deals, and they were not demanding live shows.
The Observer noted that while the wrestlers were not figured into the large profits for the second quarter because they were still being paid through mid-July due to their 90-day non-compete clauses, their $51.6 million in savings did include the saving of some money in the second quarter based on employee cuts. The argument is that by July, WWE knew that they were setting profit records and people are upset over the fact that the company extended the furloughs twice since then. The latest extension, for another month, was reportedly set just 7 days before the 2020 Q2 earnings call on July 30.
With the current return date being Friday, August 28, that means the employees would actually return to work in September. However, the Observer adds that nobody knows how many employees will be back or if it will be extended another month. There’s also some concern that there may be a feeling that WWE just set profit records with lower costs, and that maybe they just don’t need all those employees after all.