Fort Worth NewsGuild members strike over unfair labor practices by Star-Telegram owner McClatchy

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth NewsGuild is on strike, effective immediately. 

Journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are the first in Texas and the first at a newspaper owned by McClatchy to strike. Members of the Guild decided to strike with an overwhelming majority of support — 91% of signed members — because of the company’s continued refusal to bargain in good faith. 

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Journalists at Louisville’s paper of record celebrate landslide union victory

Journalists at The Courier Journal, Kentucky’s highest-circulation newspaper, today secured a confident victory in their long-awaited union election. Eligible staff voted to certify the new Courier Journal Guild by a margin of 22 to 4. The Courier Journal Guild is part of the Indianapolis NewsGuild, TNG-CWA Local 34070.

Billy Kobin, Metro Government and Breaking News reporter, was one of many staffers to share his excitement after the election results were announced. “The outcome of the vote was never really in doubt, as I had confidence in our support and collective strength,” said Kobin. “But seeing the vote tally happen live was a welcome sight nonetheless. It’s time to keep the momentum going.”

Food reporter Dahlia Ghabour agreed, saying “I am thrilled by the overwhelming majority of staff who voted to unionize at the Courier Journal. We know we are stronger together and we deserve better treatment from Gannett corporate. This union will allow us to bargain for benefits that will help The Courier Journal continue to thrive and serve the Louisville community, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Courier Journal staff announced their union drive and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board on August 30, 2022. Members stayed strong and united despite the extended wait for an election, and in the face of parent company Gannett’s multiple announcements of anti-worker cost-cutting measures during the CJ Guild’s public campaign, including mandatory Christmas furloughs and staff buyouts.

Indianapolis NewsGuild President Jenna Watson – a photojournalist at the Gannett-owned IndyStar – congratulated members of the victorious Courier Journal Guild for taking this massive step towards improving working conditions across the company.

“Our local just got a whole lot stronger! We are thrilled to see the Courier Journal Guild win its union election today, officially joining TNG-CWA 34070,” said Watson. “It’s inspiring to see them celebrate and reap the rewards of months of work they’ve put into unionizing. They now have a seat at the table with our parent company, Gannett, at a time when our workers repeatedly find themselves in vulnerable positions and at risk of losing our jobs.”

Indeed, this victory comes only two days after Gannett announced a second round of cost-cutting layoffs, following an earlier round of cuts in August of this year. The company’s announcement pointed to a need to “enter the new year in a stronger economic position” by reducing the news division workforce. Meanwhile, Gannett CEO Mike Reed took home $7.7 million in compensation in 2021 alone.

The Courier Journal Guild is not the only new unit to join the Indianapolis NewsGuild this year, as the staff of Gannett’s Midwest Digital Optimization Team (DOT) publicly announced their union drive on October 20. The new Midwest Digital Guild will also join Local 34070, covering the digital producers and journalists who manage Gannett and USA Today content across Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. DOT staffers will receive their NLRB ballots at the beginning of December, with an anticipated vote count date of January 6, 2023.

View of the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2020.

Hedge Fund Standard General has already lost at the FCC

On Thursday The NewsGuild-CWA responded to hedge fund Standard General’s attacks on the largest union of media workers in North America. 

The filing was made at the invitation of the FCC, supplementing the unions’ June petition opposing approval for the hedge fund to take over TEGNA’s local TV news stations. The $5.4 billion deal was announced in February and The NewsGuild-CWA started asking questions in April. Standard General is seeking FCC approval to take over TEGNA, a local news broadcaster with 64 stations in 51 U.S. markets.

“Standard General has waded into the mud because it has no more justifications for its takeover of TEGNA,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “Their latest personal attacks on American journalists is just another reason the FCC should deny this takeover.”

Standard General has repeatedly insisted to the FCC, the American people and TEGNA’s employees that it does not intend to reduce station-level staffing. However, in files provided to the FCC and Guild counsel, there are numerous documents indicating that Standard General plans to cut jobs to help finance the multi-billion dollar deal.

“As the FCC reviews our filings and these documents it will be clear: this deal is already dead,” Schleuss said.

The NewsGuild-CWA laid out numerous new findings in its FCC filing that speak directly to jobs and whether Standard General has been forthcoming to the Commission. It said in its filing:  

Rather than alleviate concerns that TNG-CWA/NABET-CWA have about planned station-level job cuts, newly filed confidential documents reviewed by outside counsel show that the unions’ concerns are very well founded. These findings leave Standard General’s repeated assertion that it “does not intend” to cut station-level jobs, and its subsequent explanations for those repeated assertions, sinking in quicksand. The more Standard General tries to explain away its statements to the Commission and the public about job cuts, the more its assertions collapse under the weight of the record.

The deal includes the sale of Apollo’s Boston TV station to Standard General in a way that would permit it to exploit a contractual loophole. This would jack up revenues from retransmission consent fees for every TEGNA station across the country, the costs of which would be passed on to hardworking consumers. This financial manipulation is nothing more than sophisticated and collusive price-fixing, and absolutely should not be permitted.

The NewsGuild-CWA has fought hedge funds for years as they attempt to take over newsrooms all across America. Guild members have fought Alden Global Capital, Chatham Asset Management and have taken a stand against chains like Gannett and Lee Enterprises. The Guild’s fight is one that thousands of media workers have joined in the last five years.

Standard General’s CEO Soo Kim has complained that he hasn’t been able to connect with Schleuss to discuss possible conditions to secure support for the deal.

“There are no conditions under which we will support this deal,” Schleuss said. “But if Kim still wants to talk, he can meet me on the picket line in Pittsburgh.”

The NewsGuild-CWA is on strike with workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where journalists are fighting a company that has violated federal labor law and has mistreated its workers. Read more about the strike at unionprogress.com.

About The NewsGuild-CWA

The NewsGuild is the largest union of journalists and media workers in North America, representing about 27,000 workers in media, the public sector at nonprofits and other labor unions. The Guild is one of the fastest growing unions on the continent and is a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents workers in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, health care, public service and education, manufacturing and other fields.

Pittsburgh Guild authorizes unfair labor practice strike at Post-Gazette

The newsroom workers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, voted on Monday to authorize an unfair labor practice strike against the company.

On Monday, the Guild sent a notice to Post-Gazette management to demand that the company end its illegally declared impasse to contract negotiations, lift the unilaterally imposed working conditions and reinstate the terms of the previous collectively bargained contract, and return to the contract bargaining table to reach a fair contract with the 101 journalists the Guild represents.

If the Post-Gazette fails to meet those demands, Guild journalists will commence a strike at noon Tuesday.

“The workers who produce the Post-Gazette are taking a stand against the hostile and illegal treatment at the hands of John and Allan Block,” said Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner. “We, the workers, are standing together today, ready to fight to win back our contract and work toward signing a new collective bargaining agreement that preserves the Post-Gazette for the Pittsburgh region.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has been in negotiations for a contract with PG management since 2017. The PG’s union-busting attorneys bargained in bad faith for 3½ years. On July 27, 2020, the PG unlawfully declared an impasse to negotiations, despite the Guild’s bargaining committee noting that negotiations were not even close to an impasse and that the Guild was willing to continue discussions to reach an agreement.

But despite that, the PG illegally and unilaterally imposed new working conditions on the journalists of the Newspaper Guild, cutting their wages, taking vacation time away from veteran workers, farming out their work to non-Guild workers and forcing them onto a health insurance plan that offers less coverage at a higher price.

The Newspaper Guild subsequently filed unfair labor practice charges against the Post-Gazette over these violations of their workers’ rights. Over five days in September and October, these unfair labor practice charges were argued by the National Labor Relations board in front of an administrative law judge. The PG newsroom workers are taking this action while anticipating a major victory coming out of this hearing.

The owners of the Post-Gazette, Block Communications Inc., led by twin brothers John and Allan Block, have spent millions of dollars to try to bust their workers’ unions rather than attempting to reach a fair contract with the writers, editors, photographers, artists, designers and other journalists whose hard work has provided the Pittsburgh community with award-winning journalism since the late 1700s.

If the Guild workers’ demands to restore their contract are not met, then journalists will strike, joining a picket line alongside their co-workers from the production, distribution and advertising unions, who are already out on their own unfair labor practice strike against the PG. The Blocks, as they did during negotiations with the Newspaper Guild, chose to bargain in bad faith with the production, distribution and advertising unions, and they chose to strip those workers of their health care plan rather than reach a deal.

“These journalists are just trying to do their jobs in service of the people of Pittsburgh,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. “It’s despicable for the Blocks to fight their own workers and disrespect their rights to have a union. They need to bargain in good faith now.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh calls on readers, advertisers, business and labor leaders, politicians and other members of the community to contact the publisher of the Post-Gazette, John Block, at johnrblock@theblade.com and impress upon him the importance of ending the labor strife at his newspaper by reaching a fair contract with the Guild.

Save Local News: Gannett Journalists Speak Out

Gannett journalists rally to Save Local News

Updated October 11

We hosted a virtual rally with Gannett journalists from around the country speaking about what they’ve gained from unionizing with The NewsGuild and what they’re fighting for at the bargaining table. We were joined by Florida Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, New York State Senator James Skoufis and musician Billy Bragg.

Gannett workers are unionizing in droves, and they need your support in the fight for better wages, fully staffed newsrooms, and stronger benefits at work. This is how we will restore local news.

Screenshot of letter from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Frank Pallone

Statement on Pelosi’s call for tougher scrutiny of TEGNA takeover

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact (202) 434-1175

The following statement can be attributed to NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss:

NewsGuild-CWA members are thankful that Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone have joined us in calling on the FCC to scrutinize the takeover attempt of TEGNA, one of the largest producers of local TV news. Hedge fund Standard General, backed by anonymous investors located in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere in the world, will treat TEGNA as just another part of its portfolio of casinos, cruise lines and other non-media properties.

The Speaker and Chairman rarely weigh in on cases like this, but their letter shows that they understand the threat posed by predators like Standard General.

Local news is being murdered by Wall Street firms who are only interested in cutting jobs to finance their debt. The FCC can stop this deal, protect local news and permit our members to serve the public with high quality local news.

The letter from the Speaker and the Chairman is just one more reason the FCC should closely examine this deal and then block it in its entirety. There are no concessions Standard General can make that would turn this deal into one which serves the public interest. As the union of America’s journalists and media workers, we proclaim that it’s time for private equity to stop slaughtering our country’s free press.

About The NewsGuild-CWA

The NewsGuild is the largest union of journalists and media workers in North America, representing about 27,000 workers in media, the public sector at nonprofits and other labor unions. The Guild is one of the fastest growing unions on the continent and is a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents workers in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, health care, public service and education, manufacturing and other fields.

Nominations for NewsGuild officers will be January 7

The first virtual Nominating Conference of The NewsGuild-CWA will be held on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, beginning at 12 p.m. ET. 

Guild delegates to the 2022 Sector Conference voted to establish a virtual Nominating Conference to nominate NewsGuild officers. This change eliminates the need for delegates to travel to two separate conferences in the same year.

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Gannett journalists walkout during lunch on August 11, 2022

Hundreds of Gannett journalists walk out over layoff threat

Hundreds of workers employed by Gannett-owned newsrooms are taking a coordinated lunch break today in response to a string of emails from upper management last week that threatened layoffs due to the company’s second quarter financials. According to Mike Reed, Chairman and CEO, Gannett must “responsibly and proactively [align] resources to our highest strategic priorities and [lower] costs to be in line with revenues.” 

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Graphic showing that Gannett CEO Mike Reed made more than 7.7 million in 2021 compared with $48,000 made by the median employee.

Gannett can’t be trusted to invest in journalists as it begs for special powers

Today Gannett announced that it is soon planning to cut jobs after CEO Mike Reed said the company was “facing strong headwinds” after reporting their second quarter financials. 

“Gannett has clearly shown it cannot be trusted to invest in journalists or its newsrooms and is prioritizing shareholders and executives over journalism,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. 

“As a journalist representing thousands of other journalists in North America, we scrutinize and hold companies accountable for their behavior,” he said. “Gannett’s SEC filings and actions against America’s journalists show it is incapable of being trusted.”

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