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Gannett unions offer protections against latest cost-cutting measures – for now


Gannett staff had been hit with a devastating blow on Wednesday afternoon, when the corporate introduced a lot of cost-cutting measures impacting workers’s pay and advantages. However staff who’re members of newsroom unions at Gannett’s publications have some safety from these actions – not less than, for now.

“This actually underscored why all of us unionized, why this has been such a push at Gannett just lately,” stated Jack McLoone, unit chair at Gannett’s Atlantic Digital Optimization Group (DOT).

A Gannett spokesperson stated the measures will influence all U.S. staff and can go into impact instantly, however famous union staff acquired a message that acknowledged, partially: “Please notice that this data could or could not apply to you in case you are coated by a collective bargaining settlement, represented by a union or work for an entity that’s a part of a Joint Working Settlement.”

 “We’ve been clear about the necessity to take rapid motion given the unsure and difficult financial atmosphere. Whereas troublesome, we’re assured these selections will guarantee Gannett’s future,” the Gannett spokesperson stated in an e mail. Gannett’s third-quarter earnings report is anticipated to come back out subsequent month.

Gannett’s newest cost-cutting measures

  • Gannett staff are required to take 5 days of unpaid go away in December
  • Gannett supplied voluntary buyouts
  • 401(ok) matches are quickly suspended for contributions made on or after Oct. 24.
  • Gannett is implementing a hiring freeze apart from crucial roles.
  • Workers got the choice to voluntarily cut back their work hours to replicate a 20% pay lower and request a one- to six-month unpaid sabbatical.
  • These measures had been introduced in a city corridor assembly that lasted lower than 10 minutes, held roughly two months after Gannett laid off 400 staff (about 3% of its workforce) and closed 400 open positions.
  • In a memo to workers, CEO Mike Reed cited “the deteriorating macroeconomic atmosphere” as the rationale for these actions.

Either side are heading for battle. Primarily based on conversations with 5 Gannett staff at unionized newsrooms and a NewsGuild worker, it’s clear that staff who’re members of a union have some protections that restrict the influence these measures may have on them. 

The NewsGuild represents greater than 1,500 Gannett journalists throughout roughly 50 of the over 200 every day U.S. newspapers Gannett owns. Over 15 Gannett newsrooms have unionized with the NewsGuild because the starting of 2020. The labor union will maintain an emergency caucus assembly for Gannett unions throughout the nation to debate subsequent steps earlier than the top of this week, a NewsGuild worker stated.

The security of established order

The protections insulating union members from Gannett’s cost-cutting measures fall underneath what is named “established order.” This situation of union negotiations prevents an employer from making unilateral modifications to obligatory topics of bargaining till each events both agree on a brand new contract or attain a stand-off.

“Once we’re in established order – as a result of we unionized – guild members are presently protected against a few of these most devastating cuts,” stated a Gannett worker who requested to stay nameless.

Unions with an agreed-upon contract have set phrases and situations of employment, together with severance advantages in addition to when and the way layoffs will be carried out. Obligatory topics of bargaining coated by the established order can’t be modified with out reaching an settlement with an employer; they embrace wages, schedules and layoffs, amongst others. For brand new unions within the means of bargaining a contract, protections to the established order are extra highly effective. Employers are usually prohibited from unilaterally altering the phrases and situations of employment.

The specter of eventual impacts

However this doesn’t imply unionized staff are within the clear for lengthy.

“All that does is kick the can to bargaining,” stated Mike Davis, reporter at Asbury Park Press and vice chair of the APP-MCJ Guild. Davis’ newsroom has been bargaining a contract since December 2021. Gannett CEO Reed beforehand advised Gannett staff that he expects to settle contracts with unions by the top of this yr.

“I’ve received [guild] members who’ve meals safety points, who’ve housing safety points. To even suppose somebody would think about volunteering for a 15% to twenty% pay lower simply reveals that the people who find themselves on this firm are fully out of contact,” Davis stated.

The Asbury Park Press was trying to rent not less than three reporters, to cowl breaking information, metro and sports activities. McLoone’s group is hiring for not less than two producer positions.

“It’s unclear whether or not [the measures] are going to influence our open roles,” stated McLoone, who’s a Gannett producer overseeing largely New Jersey-based digital information websites. “We’re short-staffed as it’s.”

And whereas these newest cost-cutting measures won’t instantly influence union members, it does have an effect on their newsrooms. 

“An damage to 1 is an damage to all,” stated Rebekah Sanders, client safety reporter at The Arizona Republic, Gannett’s second-largest newsroom.

Managers, for instance, usually are not a part of a union, and their potential discount in hours might take a toll on the oversight at their publications. 

“Much less managers working and modifying our tales impacts our newsroom,” the Gannett worker stated. “It has a huge effect.”

Some newsrooms are in a grey space: Workers of the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky introduced their efforts to unionize in August, however they haven’t but been formally acknowledged (ballots can be despatched out for a proper vote to unionize on Oct. 20, and the outcomes can be tallied on Nov. 18). Within the meantime, the newsroom will not be underneath established order protections, which go into impact after the election is licensed, Davis defined.

“This complete [unionizing] effort was not about yelling actually loudly. It was about forcing Gannett to basically pay the staff what they’re value, give us the advantages that we predict we deserve, and to put money into native information and journalism,” Davis stated. “I can’t see a scenario the place we let up on that at any level … We’re prepared to do no matter it takes to get what we deserve.”



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