Happy Friday, family!
Late yesterday, I popped into the unit leadership call with Insider Union members discussing the White House’s link to an Insider story in a recent email. Last Friday our family at Insider went on an unfair labor practice strike. Crossing a picket line is not OK and the White House quickly apologized and issued the following statement exclusively to our recently-launched strike publication Business Outsider.
“Across the country, we’ve seen a historic wave of newsrooms demanding fair pay and benefits. This week alone, journalists at Gannett, Insider, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remain on strike,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “All workers deserve a voice in the workplace, and journalists are no different.”
“Journalists make it possible for ordinary citizens to better understand their world, be active citizens, and question authority — it’s only right that journalists be able to do so in their workplaces without fear of retaliation or intimidation,” Jean-Pierre continued. “President Biden stands behind the right to strike and urges media companies and their workers to negotiate in good faith and reach mutually beneficial agreements that ensure striking journalists get the fair benefits, quality of life, and wages that they deserve.”
It has been decades at least — maybe it’s never happened — since a sitting president has supported striking journalists. I am very thankful to the administration for supporting journalists, our free press and our legal right to take collective action against the boss.
Workers at Insider have been on an unfair labor practice strike for one week now, protesting the company’s violation of status quo by changing employee healthcare without bargaining.
They’ve held picket lines and rallies, though canceled recent ones because of the dangerous smoke levels in New York City. Online, workers are posting testimonials, getting their pets into the action and holding management to account in open bargaining pretty much every day. Yesterday they wrote to owner Axel Springer and to KKR, which has a majority stake in the company.
It’d be way easier for managers to come to their senses and end this. They risk further damaging Insider’s reputation every day they continue to break the law and mistreat our journalists.
Hundreds of Gannett workers struck over unfair labor practices this week from two dozen newsrooms — in California, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, New York, New Jersey and Florida. The historic action was coordinated around Gannett’s shareholder meeting, which lasted all of eight minutes. No questions were allowed. CEO Mike Reed slunk away and continued to hide from journalists as the stock plummeted more than 10%. Our demands couldn’t be clearer. Pay local journalists a living wage. Make sure our newsrooms are fully staffed. Make sure our newsrooms are as diverse as the communities we are accountable to. Agree to a fair contract.
Workers organized their own fundraisers to cover lost wages during these short strikes. Please help them! Fundraisers for: Palm Springs Desert Sun, Florida Times-Union, Arizona Republic, Austin American-Statesman and NJ, NY & Reviewed journalists.
Even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supported our unfair labor practice strike, saying, “I visit every one of New York’s 62 counties each year — many of which depend on Gannett newspapers as a critical source for local news — and it breaks my heart to see the decline of these once robust newsrooms. I applaud our local reporters for persisting amid these myriad challenges, and I stand with the Gannett journalists from Rochester to the Hudson Valley and across America in their push to gain the fair benefits and contract they unequivocally deserve.”
This was a truly amazing show of our power and has clearly knocked the company off its feet. In just five days we’ve been on ULP strikes in 26 newsrooms.
Has that ever happened in our union’s 90-year history?
And it happened just two weeks after we fought off a hedge fund takeover of local news at the broadcaster that used to be part of Gannett!
To add to all the Gannett fun…
Journalists at the Savannah Morning News and Athens Banner Herald announced their intent to unionize. “We cover every beat from crime to football to food, but Gannett’s gutting of newsrooms has weakened our ability to adequately cover our communities,” workers wrote in their mission statement. Please join me in welcoming them to our union. Follow them and cheer them on Twitter @GAGannettNG
Workers at MLex and FTCWatch unanimously voted to unionize. They’re owned by LexisNexis, which also owns Law360. They organized over six months alongside the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and our Guild family at Law360. After their big win they wrote, “The MLex Guild is committed to working in good faith to advance fair working conditions for our members, to best position ourselves to serve our valued readers. We look forward to negotiating with management on next steps in this process.”
We’re about to enter our ninth month on strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This week members traveled to Toledo and met up with Blade Guild members to put pressure on Allan Block, who sits at the top of the company that owns the P-G and Toledo Blade. Allan is also on the board for C-SPAN, which is wild considering he had a hand in manipulating coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The PUP, our OG strike publication, also covered the White House’s supportive statement. We got really good news this week in Pittsburgh and it seems like the state’s unemployment agency will cover our striking family there. Our members fought hard for this win and I continue to be amazed by their strength. Be sure to throw them $10 today. And if you’ve already donated recently, you have taken a stand with some of our bravest members.
Our family at TVO, the publicly-supported provincial news and education broadcaster in Ontario, voted to strike and is pushing the government to pay them fairly in a new contract. Workers have gone without meaningful raises for years, and have lost money over their careers.
“Over the two years I’ve been working as a Learning Experience Designer in the Digital Learning department at TVO, I have loved being part of a tight-knit team of amazingly diverse people with a range of skillsets in education, instructional design, technical writing, content development and most importantly collaborative problem-solvers that are united by a love of learning,” said Natalie Drajewicz. “The funding at TVO is directly reflected back into enhancing our educational communities, and investing in TVO is an investment into public education.”
Follow our TVO family on Twitter @TVO_CMG
Los Angeles Times workers put on their “banana” shirts and held the editor to account in a staff-wide meeting after the company announced its attempt to lay off 57 newsroom workers. More than 370 workers signed onto a letter to management, decrying the layoffs.
“Your handling of this proposed layoff sends a clear message to the newsroom: You don’t care about the contract, and you don’t care about us…We’re willing to do whatever it takes to win the contract that this newsroom deserves. You should be too. Starting now, we need to see a senior newsroom leader at every bargaining session — not just observing, but participating. Show us that you want to make progress. Show us that you care.”
NAHJ, AAJA, SPJ and others jumped in calling out management for predominantly targeting journalists of color.
“Latino and Asian staff members, in particular, are overrepresented among those who were notified yesterday that they will be laid off,” NAHJ wrote in a statement. “Latinos represent 26% of the 74 positions slated to be cut, and Asian Americans represent 15%. Figures released last year showed that Latinos comprised 15% of the Times newsroom.”
I am grateful to other journalism organizations supporting us. We are all fighting together.
Workers at the New York Times ratified a historic contract, sealing in raises between 10.6% to 12.5%, lump-sum bonuses of 7%, the right to remote work, a four-week sabbatical, more holidays, minimum pay of $65,000 for every full-time worker and much much much more. I salute the workers at the New York Times and the NewsGuild of New York for developing an escalating action plan to win. We only won because workers organized, petitioned, wrote letters, stayed home, walked out, baked and marched on the boss.
Our family at RAICES is also fighting attempted layoffs announced by the Texas nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights. “This is not how a social justice, immigrant rights org should be run,” workers wrote on Twitter. “The employees in danger of layoffs are overwhelmingly women; several of them are immigrants or the children of immigrants. It is astounding the lack of care for its workers that this leadership team has shown.” Workers are organizing events across Texas on June 24th.
I spoke about our fights in a recent episode at America’s Work Force Union Podcast just yesterday. Be sure to give it a listen.
I am just absolutely stunned by an amazing week. I know that next week will be even better because of the dreams you have and the fights you build with your colleagues to make a better world.
We have more power than we know!
Be safe fam and have an excellent weekend,