See updated story below: Don Himsel laid off on Aug. 18
By Nancy West
CONCORD — The state Department of Labor has assigned an investigator to look into a complaint against The Telegraph of Nashua alleging the newspaper wrongly docked a worker’s pay, according to Labor Commissioner Ken Merrifield.
Merrifield said a complaint was filed in late November claiming The Telegraph rounded time clocks in 15-minute increments and the worker was losing pay as a result. He declined to name the worker at this point in the probe.
“When we send inspectors out, we ask them to do a complete investigation and not focus just on the complaint,” Merrifield said. “They can be extensive and time-consuming.”
The Telegraph, which was purchased by West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers in 2013, has been under public scrutiny for firing its executive managing editor Sandy Bucknam two weeks ago after more than 39 years with the newspaper.
Heather Goodwin Henline, who was named publisher at The Telegraph in April, did not respond to requests for comment two weeks ago or on Tuesday.
She was publisher and general manager of The Inter-Mountain in Elkins, W. Va., before coming to The Telegraph. The newly named editor at The Telegraph, Matthew Burdette, is also coming from The Inter-Mountain, which is also owned by Ogden, InDepthNH.org has learned.
Bucknam told InDepthNH.org the day he was fired that it was because he refused to require salaried employees to work more hours to avoid paying overtime. They were already working more than 60 hours a week, Bucknam said.
City editor Chris Garofolo, gave his two weeks notice, and hasn’t said publicly why he is leaving.
Bucknam’s firing came less than a year after The Telegraph’s former executive managing editor Roger Carroll resigned. Carroll said at the time that he was told to remove facts from a story about The Telegraph’s return to downtown Nashua after 30 years in Hudson, which he considered censorship.
Matthew Burdette has been named the new executive editor at The Telegraph of Nashua, according to a story dated Monday in The Inter-Mountain, where he has served as editor since 2012.
The Inter-Mountain story was about Brad Johnson taking over for Matthew Burdette. “Burdette is leaving The Inter-Mountain for the editor’s position at The Telegraph in Nashua, New Hampshire, also owned by the paper’s parent company, Ogden Newspapers,” the article said.
Bucknam said Ogden tries to save money by cutting as many staff members as possible. “It was over the top to suggest that I should ask these people for more work. I declined to do it and said I wasn’t going to do it. I was working too much,” he said after his firing.
Bucknam also said that workers complained to him that they feared getting up from their desks because they would be berated in the hallway.
Labor Commissioner Merrifield said The Telegraph will undergo a full investigation, but he wasn’t sure when because of the high number of complaints his office receives from other businesses across the state. If his department received more complaints about The Telegraph, Merrifield said it would raise the complaint’s priority and the probe might start sooner.
If Telegraph workers had called his office to complain about overtime issues, they may have been referred to the U.S. Department of Labor, Merrifield said, because they would involve federal, not state law. U.S. Department of Labor spokesman James Lally said his department doesn’t comment on complaints or whether or not an investigation is being conducted.
For more information about InDepthNH.org, which is published online by the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, contact Nancy West at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-738-5635