More than 200 Gannett staffers are staging a day-long strike on Friday as they demand better wages and benefits — a fresh burst of unrest following recent layoffs at the newspaper giant.
The NewsGuild, which represents staffers at Gannett — which owns USA Today and a slew of local papers such as the Detroit Free Press, the Bergen Record and the Indianapolis Star — said Friday that 14 of the company’s newsrooms won’t work at all on Friday,
Those include employees from publications in New Jersey, New York, Arizona and California. Workers in Florida, Texas and Ohio, meanwhile, will stage a lunchtime walkout.
A rep for the NewsGuild said the strikes were in response to the company laying off 400 employees and cutting another 400 open positions in August, which represented 3% of staff. Those cuts were followed by more belt-tightening in October, which included furloughs and cuts to the 401k plan.
“These devastating cuts to local newsrooms come on the heels of Gannett announcing a $100M stock buyback program for shareholders in February, directing critical funding away from local newsrooms and to rich shareholders,” the rep said.
Gannett did not immediately return requests for comment. The company told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, that the strikes won’t interfere with putting out the news to its readers.
“We continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees,” the company said.
The McLean, Va.-based Gannett said in a recent securities filing that as of last December, it employed roughly 4,846 journalists across local papers, USA Today and in its UK publications.
On Thursday, the publisher swung to a third-quarter net loss of $54 million, and said it expected to post a loss for the full year. Chief executive Michael Reed cited inflationary pressures and macroeconomic volatility.