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Gannett should provide D&C journalists with more compensation and job security



Rochester, New York – Ahead of Wednesday’s union talks, journalists from Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle staged a protest.

To draw attention to their negotiations with Gannett, union workers staged a picket outside The Riverside Convention Center. The unionized staff of the newspaper decided overwhelmingly to go on strike on April 6 at 12:01 AM if Gannett did not sign a contract meeting their demands. Prior to the total solar eclipse, the union decided to go on strike.

“We feel that the lunar eclipse on Monday is a chance for 24 journalists that work in Rochester to take on the largest media organization in the country,” said Tracy Schumacher, Food and Drink Reporter at the D&C. “A fair contract looks like equitable wages, we have people who have been with Gannett like 20 and 30 years, making less than people coming in the door. So, we are looking to get equitable wages we are looking to get cost of living increases on an annual basis, a containment of health care increases, and layoff provisions because they are a fact of life at Gannett. We have been at the bargaining table with Gannett for two years and recently some of the bargaining has slowed down, and some of the offers the company has made have been ludicrously small. So with the news event of the eclipse, it made sense that this is a chance for 24 journalists in the largest newspaper organization in the country to play some hardball.”

Gary Craig, a correspondent at the newspaper since 1990, was one of the protesters.

“We are trying to get a contract that’s fair on the wages front,” said Craig. “You know, layoff fronts a number, and I mean the encouraging thing is we were close up to a little while back, and you know we’ve been making concessions. To their credit, they’ve made some, but they’ve seemed to hit a brick wall, and you know we are just trying to move it along and get resolved. I’m older, so I’m not as impacted, but you know they’re (his colleagues) not making livable wages you know we have mid-career people who work their tail off from you know, the start of the day to the end of the day. It’s been 20+ years of layoffs, furloughs, and buyouts. It’s maddening because I love the business, and I think we work hard to give the community good news coverage and it just gets harder and harder every day.”

Protesters demanded increased salaries, but they also wanted improved safeguards against layoffs and job security in light of the development of artificial intelligence. Union officials announced that they have reported Gannett to the National Work Relations Board for unfair work practices.

“The strike we’ve authorized is related to unfair labor practices,” said Justin Murphy, Vice Chair of the Newspaper Guild of Rochester. “Part of which is because of how Gannett has approached us at the bargaining table. We’ve been attempting to bargain for two years now very assiduously, and at nearly every step, the company has either declined to give us time to bargain or respond to our offers. There are more technicalities, but the bottom line is we want them to come to the table and do what’s best for the company and do the right thing for the community.”

In a statement, Amy Garrard, Vice President of Labor Relations at Gannett, said: “Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our community as we continue to bargain in good faith. Democrat and Chronicle readers can be assured there will be no disruption to our ability to deliver content and trusted news.”

Two additional negotiation sessions with the union are set for this Thursday, April 4, and this Friday, April 5.