Report-Courier newsroom personnel sort union to struggle for superior pay, rewards, work security

Ivory Vandezande

Newsroom staffers at the 191-yr-aged Record-Courier, a Kent-based local news outlet covering Portage County, are unionizing as they struggle for superior shell out, positive aspects and task security.

The newsroom, which has been greatly diminished in the latest years amid diverse entrepreneurs, is made up of 7 folks who say they have signed and submitted playing cards with the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by the NewsGuild-CWA (Communications Staff of The usa).

The guild’s members involve journalists and other staff working for various publications, broadcasts and other news products and services in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Also represented by the guild are staff at History-Courier sister publications the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository and Massillon Independent.

“Nearby information matters,” explained longtime History-Courier worker and senior news reporter Diane Smith. “It issues to our readers, and it issues to us. But devoid of a strong staff of community journalists, important stories are additional probable to be missed. We get in touch with on Gannett to invest in nearby journalism with truthful wages and truthful procedure.”

Employees at the publication say their pay is substandard and the added benefits are lousy. Occupation security also is a worry for the veteran staffers who say they continue being because of to commitment to reporting tales in their local communities.

“For the past various many years, we have bled editorial personnel some have been laid off, many others have left of their have accord,” explained Record-Courier reporter Bob Gaetjens. “People of us who continue to be like reporting, but not automatically the situations we get the job done under, from shell out to the absence of colleagues that enable present a sturdy overall solution.”

The History-Courier was relatives owned and operated by newspaper chain Dix Communications when Dix was procured by GateHouse Media in 2017 for $21.2 million.

In 2019, GateHouse acquired United states These days publisher Gannett in a $1.1 billion takeover. GateHouse adopted the Gannett moniker next that offer, which founded it as the greatest newspaper organization in the nation with 260 day-to-day papers at the time and hundreds of weeklies.

The History-Courier has long gone through a number of alterations considering that these acquisitions were made. Gaetjens, for case in point, formerly labored for a division of weekly papers operated by Dix, where by he begun functioning in 2000. The weeklies have been ultimately consolidated with some phased out, like the Gateway Information, which solely lined Streetsboro. Gaetjens was an editor there when the publication was shut down, at which level he was moved over to the Report-Courier as a reporter.

Several other reporters, editors and photographers have been allow go in the past several several years. Positions vacated by those who still left willingly have been not refilled. Some workers were being reportedly pushed out by GateHouse administration.

More than this time, worker fork out has been one of the most significant challenges.

Smith notes that when Gannett introduced furloughs previous spring amid the pandemic, they eventually mentioned these layoffs would only impact those who acquired much more than $38,000 a calendar year. None of the Report-Courier newsroom staff, most of whom have been linked to the publication or sister retailers for a long time, ended up earning ample to be furloughed.

“Several of us make a lot less than a residing wage. For several years, our newsroom has been downsized and restructured by corporate homeowners,” stated the staff members in a collective assertion. “People cuts have produced it complicated to present the news that our readers demand from customers and have earned. Critical neighborhood events, sporting activities and additional have been remaining uncovered or less than included, and our visitors notice.”

“We get worried about the future of journalism for Portage County and want to continue to keep a significant paper likely,” Gaetjens extra. “We feel preserving excellent journalists we have and building it a small much more beautiful for prospective new journalists — if (the organization) at any time made the decision to fill any positions left empty — to make it a very little extra attractive.”

The newsroom stated it is to start with requesting Gannett administration to voluntarily identify its union. According to Gannett, that is not heading to materialize.

“Gannett strongly supports the Nationwide Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) election course of action and has usually participated in that process quite and in good religion,” reported Gannett spokeswoman Lark-Marie Anton in an emailed assertion. “Central to that course of action is a democratic election in which each and every employee’s voice is heard. We respect the ideal of the staff at the Record-Courier to make a thoroughly knowledgeable preference for by themselves regardless of whether to unionize or not. That is at the coronary heart of our selection not to realize the union until it prevails in a top secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB.”

This tale was updated July 7 with a statement from Gannett.

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