Hundreds of Gannett news staffers stage one-day strike over cost-cutting measures
More than 200 Gannett journalists walked off their jobs on Friday as part of a one-day strike demanding better pay and benefits.
Those that took part in the daylong strike were workers at 14 Gannett newsrooms in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and southern California.
Some of the publications included Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle, the Asbury Park Press and The Arizona Republic.
Hundreds of other media workers at Gannett publications in Texas, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin picketed or participated in lunch-time walkouts in solidarity, according to The NewsGuild, which represents Gannett staffers.
“Gannett has no news to print, no stories to publish online, no photos, no content to share without the hard work and dedication of our members,” said Susan DeCarava, president of NewsGuild of New York.
“Gannett executives have been robbing journalists and the communities they serve by decimating newsrooms and underpaying workers while lavishing company executives with extravagant pay, outrageous bonuses and artificially inflating the value of stocks with buyback schemes. We have had enough.”
The daylong strike is in response to the media empire laying off 400 employees, or about 3 percent of its staff, and cutting another 400 positions in August, according to NewsGuild.
Massive layoffs came the same year the company reported a $54 million loss in revenue in the second and third quarters of this year.
Apart from laying off workers, Gannett is also forcing its workers to take one week of unpaid leave in December in order to cut costs, according to Poynter.
And while the company said it has seen a boost in digital subscriptions and financial improvement due to steps taken to cut costs, CEO Mike Reed does not expect revenue to begin to recover until 2024, according to Poynter.
It has also paused its 401(k) matches and offered voluntary severance for those that want to leave the company and a four-day work week as part of austerity measures.
The union claims and the strike come on the heels of a report shining a light on just how much more the company’s CEO makes compared to the average worker.
The strike also comes after Gannett announced a $100 million stock buyback program for its shareholders, according to The NewsGuild.
“Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our communities across the country. Despite the anticipated work stoppage in some of our markets, we will not cease delivering trusted news to our loyal readers,” said Gannett’s Chief Communications Officer Lark-Marie Anton in a statement. “In addition, we continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees.”