Gannett Workers Unionize at Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune and Courier News
The APP-MCJ Guild is the Fourth Gannett Union to Organize With The NewsGuild of New York This Year
New York — This morning, the editorial employees of the Gannett-owned Asbury Park Press (app.com), Home News Tribune and Courier News (mycentraljersey.com) have announced that they have unionized with The NewsGuild of New York. With over 70% of eligible staffers signed on, the APP-MCJ Guild has requested voluntary recognition from Gannett management.
“Our basic human needs – food and housing – should not be competing stressors because of lack of a living wage,” said Cheryl Makin, Reporter, Courier News (mycentraljersey.com). “We should not be living a life based on the daily mantra ‘be grateful you have a job,’ repeated and reinforced by upper management. We should be working in an environment of professional respect – shown through quality benefits, policies and salaries. We should be heard. We should be believed. We should be respected. Full stop.”
“Our newsrooms have served our communities for over a century, and by forming the APP-MCJ Guild, we are ensuring our journalists are given the necessary means to serve for the next 100 years,” said Ryan Ross, On-air Host and Visual Journalist, Asbury Park Press (app.com).
“I am tired of watching my female colleagues walk out the door because management won’t listen to their ideas or appreciate their talents,” said Susanne Cervenka, Reporter, Asbury Park Press (app.com). “I am tired of being asked to do more work with no compensation while the CFO gets a $600K bonus for furloughing and laying us off. I am tired of my colleagues and myself having to work second jobs to live in the area we cover. The APP-MCJ Guild gives us an opportunity to refocus on the local journalism our community deserves. That’s why I am proud to be a founding member.”
“I’m very proud and inspired that the editorial workers of The APP-MCJ Guild have formed a union with us to address pervasive inequity and neglect in their newsroom,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York. “Gannett’s editorial workers throughout the region are banding together and fighting for more diverse workplaces and stronger local news to serve as a watchdog in local communities. Gannett should recognize the union so that we can begin negotiations for a first contract and ensure a stronger newsroom for readers and workers alike.”
The APP-MCJ Guild joins thousands of media professionals across the country who have organized with The NewsGuild-CWA to preserve and protect their local outlets.
The APP-MCJ is the fourth Gannett union to form this year in the company’s Atlantic Region. On May 7, workers at the Bergen Record, NJ Herald and Daily Record voted in favor of joining The NewsGuild of New York and workers at The Journal News, Times Herald-Record and Poughkeepsie Journal went public and filed for a union election on July 14. On Aug. 11, workers at the Atlantic Digital Optimization team (DOT) won a union election at the NLRB.
Beyond the Atlantic region, workers at several Gannett-owned publications — including workers at the South Bend Tribune, the Palm Beach Daily News, and the Arizona Republic — have organized to fight for their newsrooms.
The NewsGuild of New York filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge earlier this summer with the National Labor Relations Board over union busting actions by Gannett after managers offered benefits in exchange for rejecting the union and implied a promise of benefits by soliciting grievances during the voting period.
The mission statement of the APP-MCJ Guild:
We, the editorial staff of the Asbury Park Press, the Home News Tribune and the Courier News have told your stories, spoken truth to power and amplified the voices of our most vulnerable communities for nearly 150 years. We are proud of our journalism and the change it has brought to Central Jersey and the Jersey Shore. Now, we have unionized with the NewsGuild of New York in order to save our local news.
For over a decade, we have lived in fear for our livelihood as our corporate owner, Gannett, decimated our newsrooms with routine layoffs and buyouts, depriving our readers of decades of institutional knowledge and damaging our local journalism. Our newsrooms have been gutted from a staff that once numbered in the hundreds down to a team of less than 50 journalists tasked with covering the issues facing more than 3 million residents in Central Jersey and along the Jersey Shore. Our colleagues have lost their jobs while on vacation, on disability and even while on company-mandated furlough. Reporters with decades of experience were forced to re-apply for their own jobs, while others took on greater responsibilities without a raise.
The journalists who have survived these cuts often receive wages and benefits from Gannett that are not enough to make ends meet in one of the most expensive areas in the country, forcing talent young and old to other outlets or out of journalism entirely. We are offered health insurance plans with high deductibles and meager coverage, and are routinely sent into the field to cover crowded and potentially dangerous events with little to no personal protective equipment.
We have unionized to advocate for ourselves and to support each other, to fight for fairness and equity and demand that Gannett treat us with the dignity we deserve. We have unionized to ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear, now more than ever.
We strive to tell the stories of every New Jerseyan, and this requires us to take a long, hard look at and acknowledge our own failures when it comes to diversity. You cannot tell the full story of a place without telling the stories of all of its people. We need those people in the room to make the changes necessary in our industry to redress social, racial and economic injustice. We have unionized to advocate for greater diversity in hiring and our coverage, leaning into the hard conversations needed to ensure our newsrooms are actually an ally for women, people of color and our LGBTQ+ communities and ensure their stories will never go unheard.
There is no local news without local journalists. We have unionized to preserve our high-quality, local news coverage and to build a better, more stable future. We are proud to join the wave of Gannett newsrooms organizing with the NewsGuild to be treated as valued and important employees. We care deeply about the importance of our journalism to our community.
Gannett can prove they care about local journalism, too, by voluntarily recognizing our union now and putting an end to its anti-union campaign of interrogation and lying to our members. However, we are not waiting for their lead. There’s too much at stake.
Signed the staff of the Asbury Park Press, the Home News Tribune and the Courier News:
Alex Biese Lauren Knego
Kayla Canne Alexander Lewis
Jerry Carino Olivia Liu
Susanne Cervenka Danny LoGiudice
Thomas P. Costello II Sue Loyer
Kevin Davis Cheryl Makin
Mike Davis Andrew Mendlowitz
Michael Diamond Jean Mikle
Steve Edelson Amanda Oglesby
Steven Falk Simeon Pincus
Nicolas Fernandes Ryan Ross
Chris Jordan Suzanne Russell-Bing
Alex Gecan Joe Strupp
Sarah Griesemer Bradley Wadlow
Jenna Intersimone David P. Willis
ABOUT THE NEWSGUILD OF NEW YORK
The NewsGuild of New York, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, is a labor union representing nearly 4,000 media professionals and other employees at New York area news organizations, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Thomson Reuters, The Nation, BuzzFeed News, TIME, PEOPLE, Wirecutter, and The Daily Beast. The NewsGuild of New York advocates for journalists to have a voice in the newsroom, for press freedom, for inclusive and diverse workplaces, and for just cause, no exceptions, for all media professionals.
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