By:
February 10, 2021

Three Gannett-owned newsrooms in New Jersey announced Wednesday morning they are jointly unionizing.

The Bergen Record, the Daily Record and the NJ Herald will come together to form The Record Guild, which will be part of the NewsGuild of New York. In an announcement signed by 68 staff members across the three papers, The Record Guild said they are calling for higher wages and better health care benefits to help them better cover the communities they serve.

“With increasing workloads and dwindling resources dedicated to local news, Gannett expects the staff will continue to accomplish more with less,” the announcement reads. “All of this leads to a newsroom that is constantly bleeding talent and struggling to effectively report on the news that matters.”

The announcement comes as Gannett, which has more than 250 daily newsrooms and is the country’s largest newspaper chain, makes cuts at its papers, laying off staff and closing printing plants. Last year, the company instigated a round of layoffs and buyouts, shedding more than 500 jobs.

Since 2016, more than 250 people at the three New Jersey papers have been laid off, according to the Record Guild announcement. Those layoffs included a reporter who was nearly nine months pregnant and a veteran reporter who had to take a buyout after missing an email to opt out. The union also said the newsrooms have lost an “alarming” number of journalists of color.

“(N)either our staff nor our stories adequately reflect the communities we serve,” The Record Guild wrote. “We have joined the NewsGuild in order to effectively advocate for greater diversity in our hiring, our coverage, and our interaction with the communities we serve.”

Poynter has reached out to a Gannett spokesperson for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.

Several other Gannett newsrooms have unionized in recent months. Journalists at The Desert Sun began casting ballots last month in their National Labor Relations Board election to unionize. They had announced their intent to unionize earlier in December, but just two hours after notifying management, Gannett informed them that it would not voluntarily recognize their union.

Gannett also came under fire last year when it filed motions to oppose mail ballot elections for the Southwest Florida News Guild, Delaware NewsGuild and Palm Beach News Guild during the pandemic. Union leaders at the time alleged that the company was trying to delay the elections. Ultimately, all three became certified unions.

The Record Guild’s formation comes at the heels of another joint unionization effort. Reporters at four Washington state McClatchy newsrooms announced in December that they were forming the Washington State NewsGuild. McClatchy declined to voluntarily recognize the union, instead pushing the newsrooms to unionize separately. The NLRB held a hearing last month to resolve the issue and has yet to issue a ruling.

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Angela Fu is a freelance reporter based in Birmingham, Ala. and a contributor to Poynter.org. She can be reached at angelafu7@gmail.com or on Twitter @angelanfu.
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