Reporters for the Gannett-owned Arizona Republic voted to unionize last week, just one month before the media giant faces a shareholder vote on a proposed acquisition by GateHouse Media.
The move to form a union passed by a 68%-32% margin.
“This is a historic decision to protect local journalism,” said Arizona Republic staff writer Rebekah Sanders. “We have sent a powerful message to Gannett that we expect dignified layoff severance, fair wages and a voice in the decisions that affect our future.”
Many staffers are expecting layoffs at the Gannett newspapers whether the sale is approved or not, although CEO Mike Reed has said many of the cuts will occur outside the newsroom.
As many as 10% of the Gannett staff could lose their jobs, analysts have predicted.
Shareholders have been told that the merger of the media companies will result in about $300 million in cost-cutting synergies to cover a $1.8 billion loan at an 11.5% interest rate.
Gannett owns eight dailies in New Jersey: The (Bergen) Record, the Herald News, the Daily Record, the Home News Tribune, the Courier News, the Asbury Park Press, the Courier-Post, and the Daily Journal.
GateHouse owns the Burlington County Times and the New Jersey Herald.