U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Gov Phil Murphy has endorsed a bid by reporters and staffers of three Gannett-owned New Jersey newspapers to form a union.
“I stand with the brave, local journalists at The Record, New Jersey Herald and Daily Record who consistently risk their health and safety during storms, disasters and a pandemic to keep us all informed,” Menendez said on Wednesday. “I also support their right to unionize to build and foster more diverse and inclusive newsrooms.”
A total of 72 editorial employees – more than 90% of eligible workforce – have signed on to join the NewsGuild of New York, a union affiliated with the Communications Workers of America Local 31003, have formed the union in a bid for enhanced job security and workplace diversity.
On Twitter, Murphy congratulated The Record employees for “organizing to create a stronger, more equitable workplace.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), who opposed a hostile takeover bid of Gannett by a hedge fund in 2019, said that Gannett’s history of firing reporters and pushing pay reductions offers strong justification for a union.
“Incisive local journalism forms the foundation of healthy communities. We can draw a straight line from deteriorating independent media to our growing national divisions,” Pascrell said.. “We desperately need more local journalists covering our communities and holding power accountable – the future of our democracy actually depends on it. So the formation of the Record Guild to protect their jobs is natural and I support it wholeheartedly.”
The ball is in Gannett’s court, for now.
“I call on Gannett to voluntarily recognize the Record Guild,” Menendez said.
Murphy said Gannett should do the same “without delay.”
If Gannett turns down the voluntary request, the employees can petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election.
The other seven New Jersey dailies owned by Gannett have not announced any plans to unionize.
This story was updated at 10:08 PM with comment from Pascrell.