Gannett’s journalists are delivering some grim news to corporate management today by walking off the job in a one day strike at 14 newspapers.
Workers say the $1.86 billion company’s maltreatment of its 21,250 employees forced them to react.
“The most recent Draconian workplace measures – more layoffs, forced furloughs, halted 401k matches among them – are only the latest example of Gannett’s disregard for our passion, our work and our commitment,” said a statement from the NewsGuild-CWA. “Again, this is not an easy decision, but it is a necessary one.”
The NewsGuild-CWA is the labor union that represents more than 50 Gannett newsrooms across the country, from Arizona to Florida, from Rochester to Austin.
The largest U.S. newspaper publisher as measured by total daily circulation, Gannett has cut thousands of jobs across the country and allowed vacancies to remain unfilled, forcing employees to produce top-tier coverage with smaller and smaller staffs.
“In response to Gannett’s failure to provide a living wage to many of its employees and its continued decimation of newsrooms, we will not work for our publications today, Friday, November 4, 2022,” said the union.
The publications impacted are: Asbury Park Press, Courier News, Home News Tribune, The Journal News, Poughkeepsie Journal, Times Herald-Record, The Bergen Record, The Daily Record, New Jersey Herald, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle, Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch, Times Telegram (Herkimer), The Desert Sun, Arizona Republic, and The Atlantic Digital Optimization Team (DOT).
Members feel their organizing effort is the best way to strengthen community news coverage in the face of Gannett’s drive to regionalization.
“I am tired of watching my female colleagues walk out the door because management won’t listen to their ideas or appreciate their talents,” said Asbury Park Press Staff Writer Susanne Cervenka. “I am tired of being asked to do more work with no compensation while the CFO gets a $600K bonus for furloughing and laying us off.”
“I am tired of my colleagues and myself having to work second jobs to live in areas we cover,” said Cervenka. “The APP-MCJ Guild gives us an opportunity to refocus at a good rate on the local journalism our community deserves. That’s why I’m proud to be a founding member.”
“In the last decade, corporate robber barons, in pursuit of short-term profit, have shuttered the doors of thousands of local papers and half of all journalist jobs have disappeared,” according to the union.
“Entire communities have been left without meaningful coverage. The remaining media workers are being pushed to the brink to produce top-tier journalism while suffering in the lowest-tier conditions.”
“As members of The NewsGuild-CWA, we want to ensure that regional and local journalists can live and thrive in the communities they serve across the United States,” said the union.
To strengthen our democracy, to strengthen our communities, to promote civic engagement and civil discourse, newsrooms must be fully staffed, diverse, and have conditions that support long careers.
The union argued that Gannett must immediately increase hiring and commit to providing the resources that good local journalism requires.
In-depth, accurate and balanced news coverage requires employees that have a diversity of views, cultures and backgrounds who can navigate the communities they serve.
As Gannett hires, trains and promotes employees, it must seek to improve diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the company.
Gannett must offer fair pay so that local journalists can live and thrive in the communities they serve, according to the union.
To retain talent, the company must provide job security, access to training and career development, healthful and safe working conditions and advancement opportunities.
Workers say they must be afforded the benefits and paid-time off that support healthy work-life balance.