JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Times-Union Guild announced this week it will join a wave of nationwide Gannett strikes.
The wave of strikes start Monday, the day of Gannett’s annual shareholder meeting. The Times-Union strike will take place on Tuesday at Riverfront Park.
The Times-Union Guild, a collection of reporters, photographers and editors, said it has been negotiating in good faith with Gannett for a contract for nearly five years. Gannett has repeatedly cut investment in the Times-Union newsroom, guild leaders said, by slashing positions, even as the growth of the Jacksonville metropolitan area has shown a need for more news coverage. During that time, Times-Union reporters have done award-winning work, like their reporting on the JEA saga.
The NewsGuild released this statement that reads in part:
“After Times-Union journalists have gone five years without a pay raise, Gannett has offered pay increases for one-fourth of the newsroom in its latest contract offer. But others would go another two years with stagnant wages while inflation eats into the buying power of take-home pay. Gannett’s offer would eliminate any company match for 401(k) retirement accounts until and unless the company decides to make that match. Gannett wants to cut reimbursement for mileage when journalists use their personal vehicles for work-related trips, and it wants to raise health insurance premiums by as much as $4,300 annually for journalists with family coverage.”
In 2016, there were 90 employees with the paper in Jacksonville. Today that number has dropped to 22 — a 76% decline.
“We’re really going on strike for two reasons: We’re showing solidarity with other guild members, union members that connect publications across the country, that are also doing one-day strikes because we want to change the direction that Gannett is taking in terms of investing in our newsroom, investing in our cities. And we’ve also been bargaining for five years for our first contract,” T-U reporter and guild member David Bauerlein told News4JAX Friday.
Alexandria Mansfield is a relatively new reporter with the T-U. She plans to participate in the one-day strike next week. She spoke about the fact that many young people today get their news from social media platforms like TikTok.
“I love when people say that because it shows a lack of media literacy that people say that. We obviously report the news, and that’s where it gets on TikTok. It ends up on TikTok from reporters who are doing the local journalists’ jobs,” Mansfield said.
The News Guild-CWA represents more than 50 Gannett bargaining units, covering more than 1,000 employees.
“I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to make this. It will not be where we become a relic or a dinosaur. We are an evolving industry, there’s no doubt about that. But the value of what we do is still there, regardless of the format, regardless of the vehicle. People want the news, they want investigative reporting, they want us out there covering the meetings, bringing them the news that matters to them,” Bauerlein said.
News4JAX reached out to the Times-Union Editor, who referred News4JAX to cooperate in a statement Gannett says:
“Despite the anticipated work stoppage, we will not cease delivering trusted news to our loyal readers. Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our communities across the country as we continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees.”