Unions representing newsroom staff at four Gannett locations are planning to walk off the job Monday, a union organizer for The Palm Beach Post and the Palm Beach Daily News said.
In addition to The Post and its sister paper, also known as The Shiny Sheet, workers at The Florida Times-Union, The Fort Myers News-Press and The Naples Daily News are planning to walk out, according to Twitter posts from the union accounts at those newspapers. Other newspapers around the country are planning a similar action, coinciding with Gannett shareholders’ annual meeting.
About 75 Florida journalists will be walking off the job Monday. Chris Persaud, secretary of the Palm Beach News Guild and also a reporter, said there are 37 workers in his unit. And Alexandria Mansfield, a writer at the Times-Union in Jacksonville who is part of the Guild there, said 20 newsroom employees are walking out Monday. A representative for the Southwest Florida unit estimated about two dozen journalists belong to the union there.
Gannett Corp., the country’s largest newspaper company, is also the company behind most of the daily news content produced in Florida. The media behemoth owns a total of 20 daily newspapers across Florida, with some of them pushing out a number multiple daily newspapers, such as Treasure Coast Newspapers, which publishes The Stuart News, St. Lucie News Tribune and the Indian River Press Journal, as well as the weekly Jupiter Courier.
Mansfield, who covers growth and development in northeast Florida, said efforts to raise the base reporter salary to $40,000 a year at the Times-Union have stalled over the last few months. And the two sides haven’t talked since May 9.
“Our guild is one of the farthest along (in trying to negotiate a contract) since we have been bargaining for nearly five years,” Mansfield said.
A demonstration is planned in front of The Palm Beach Post, a union representative said. A statement from the South Florida newspaper union indicated journalists there were encountering a similar problem as those in Jacksonville.
“Gannett has yet to respond to a proposal pitched last month by the president of the Communications Workers of America, which the NewsGuild belongs to,” an official statement from the union said. “We are going on a one-day strike but are prepared to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract.”
A spokesperson for The Palm Beach Post said the work stoppage would not affect news delivery — and negotiations are ongoing.
“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,” a prepared statement from the newspaper said.
Journalists at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and the Bradenton Herald staged a similar one-day walkout in April 2022. A new contract — the fledgling union’s first — was announced in August after 984 days of mobilizing and bargaining, according to The NewsGuild.
In general, the newspaper industry has been beset with problems related to the migration of news to the web. Advertising revenues and staff counts have steadily shrunk since the mid-2000s.
Three unions representing workers at the four properties put out gofundme tweets asking for support for the walkout.
“The reporters and photographers for The News-Press and The Naples Daily News are going on strike — and we’re asking you, our community, to support us,” the News Guild tweet from Southwest Florida reads. “Gannett is America’s biggest newspaper publisher. It owns hundreds of papers across the U.S., including The News-Press and The Naples Daily News. But instead of managing its funds smartly, it has laid off our colleagues left and right, removed layers of editing and killed local events we used to put on for our communities. “
Statements from these accounts indicated the pay offered is not enough to live in the communities these journalists cover.