The journalists’ union announced on Thursday that they would go on strike the following week in approximately 240 newsrooms run by Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the US.
The purpose of the strike, which will begin on June 5 and last for the most part for one day, is to protest Gannett’s leadership and the cost-cutting measures enforced since its merger with GateHouse Media in 2019.
The NewsGuild reported that Gannett had eliminated jobs, closed newsrooms, reduced compensation and benefits, and refused to discuss wages and working conditions in good faith. The NewsGuild represents employees in over 50 Gannett newsrooms.
Lark-Marie Anton, the Chief Communications Officer of Gannett, stated that the company aims to offer all its employees competitive wages, benefits, and opportunities. She said there would be no interruption to their content or their capacity to provide reliable news despite the anticipated work stoppage.
The walkout is scheduled to run concurrently with Gannett’s yearly shareholder meeting.
Protesters plan to ask stock shareholders to delay their votes for Mike Reed, the CEO, to signal “no confidence” in his company management. Reed has been in charge of the chain since the merger in 2019. After the purchase, the news industry experienced instability, causing Gannett’s share price to decrease by over 60 percent.
The union has announced strikes in certain newsrooms extending for at least two days.
In a statement, The NewsGuild of New York president Susan DeCarava called the shareholder meeting a “slap in the face.”
The NewsGuild claims in court documents that Gannett’s management shrank newsrooms and reduced coverage to pay off the company’s enormous debt. In an effort to save money, we have also had to implement mandatory layoffs and halt 401(k) payments.
Reed purportedly did not answer any questions at the shareholder meeting, and according to Jon Schleuss, the meeting was a “complete joke.” Schleuss is the NewsGuild-CWA President.