RELEASE: Menendez, Booker, Pascrell, Gottheimer, Sherrill, Malinowksi Stand with Local Journalists, Support Workers’ Right to Unionize

Mar 03, 2021
Press

Lawmakers urge Gannett to abide by federal labor laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07) today sent a letter to Gannett CEO Michael Reed standing up for local journalism and urging the company to cease efforts to interfere with the right of employees to unionize at the Record and NorthJersey.com, Daily Record and New Jersey Herald.

“Journalists make enormous sacrifices and often risk their personal health and safety in a demanding and frequently thankless job to serve their communities.  Journalists deserve respect and dignity in the workplace, and have the right under federal law to unionize, should they freely choose that path,” the letter stated.  “We are concerned to learn that Gannett has engaged in anti-union campaigning and procedural delay tactics designed to exert influence and poison the union election process.  Such union-busting is anathema to democracy and has no place in New Jersey, where there is a proud and long history of unionized labor.”

A supermajority of reporters, photographers and producers at Gannett’s North Jersey properties—the Record and NorthJersey.com, Daily Record and New Jersey Herald—have elected to form the Record Guild, affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003, in an effort to unionize.  After Record Guild filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the leadership team at these papers began conducting anti-union captive audience meetings with employees.

“This is a clear attempt to discourage workers from exercising their statutory rights to form a union,” the letter continued.  “We call on you to immediately instruct these papers’ leadership to refrain from further anti-union campaigning and to also abandon your claim that these newsrooms are an inappropriate unit for collective bargaining.  Your employees deserve to have a collective voice at the table and are legally entitled to an unimpeded, democratic union election process.”

In expressing their support for workers’ rights to unionize and collectively bargain, the lawmakers stressed the importance of strong, local journalism to any healthy democracy.

Full text of the letter is below and can be downloaded here.

March 3, 2021

Michael Reed
Chief Executive Officer
Gannett Company
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22107-0150

 Dear Mr. Reed:

As you know, strong, independent local journalism is vital to any healthy democracy in order to ensure an informed public and to hold those in power, including ourselves, accountable to the people they serve.  Journalists make enormous sacrifices and often risk their personal health and safety in a demanding and frequently thankless job to serve their communities.  Journalists deserve respect and dignity in the workplace, and have the right under federal law to unionize, should they freely choose that path.

We write today to express our disappointment that Gannett has refused to voluntarily recognize the supermajority of staff, including reporters, photographers, and producers at the Record and NorthJersey.com, Daily Record and NJ Herald who have formed the Record Guild with the NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003.  In addition, we are concerned to learn that Gannett has engaged in anti-union campaigning and procedural delay tactics designed to exert influence and poison the union election process.  Such union-busting is anathema to democracy and has no place in New Jersey, where there is a proud and long history of unionized labor.

We are further disappointed to learn that after the Record Guild filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), your leadership team at these papers began conducting anti-union captive audience meetings with employees.  Furthermore, we are surprised that Gannett now claims that the three papers are separate news organizations and therefore an inappropriate unit for collective bargaining.  This is a clear attempt to discourage workers from exercising their statutory rights to form a union.  Moreover, such actions to break up the union membership will only serve to further weaken local news.  

We call on you to immediately instruct these papers’ leadership to refrain from further anti-union campaigning and to also abandon your claim that these newsrooms are an inappropriate unit for collective bargaining.  Your employees deserve to have a collective voice at the table and are legally entitled to an unimpeded, democratic union election process.  Union representation will provide these newspaper employees with the opportunity to negotiate for better pay, benefits and job security.  

We respectfully ask that you honor your employees’ rights and refrain from any further anti-union tactics.

Sincerely,

###

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