Employees in 14 Gannett newsrooms staged a one-day strike Friday, to protest job cuts and to seek better pay and benefits. The NewsGuild, which represents the staff members, said the job action was prompted by the layoffs of 400 employees, about 3% of the total, in August, when the company also eliminated another 400 positions, the Hill reports. "Gannett executives have been robbing journalists and the communities they serve by decimating newsrooms and underpaying workers while lavishing company executives with extravagant pay, outrageous bonuses and artificially inflating the value of stocks with buyback schemes," said Susan DeCarava, president of NewsGuild of New York. "We have had enough."
Gannett announced more spending cuts last month, per the Wall Street Journal. They include a mandatory five-day unpaid leave in December and the suspension of 401(k) matches. The company also announced severance options for those who retire voluntarily. Gannett, which publishes USA Today, posted a quarterly loss on Thursday of $54 million, after reporting a loss of the same amount the previous quarter. More than 200 people were reported to be taking part in the strike, including employees who work remotely. Gannett said it wouldn't be deterred from serving 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 union was critical of Gannett CEO Mike Reed's $8 million salary, per the New Jersey Globe, saying that's 160 times the median pay of employees—as well as the newly announced $100 million stock buyback program for shareholders. "We felt it was an important time to step back and say you're disrespecting us in the newsroom with staffing levels," said Peter D. Kramer, a reporter in New York's Hudson Valley. (Read more Gannett stories.)