Journalists at three Gannett papers in Central Jersey and the Jersey Shore announced Thursday they are unionizing.
The new unit, which is calling itself the APP-MCJ Guild, includes editorial staff at the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News and the Home News Tribune. In their mission statement, the journalists wrote that they are unionizing with the NewsGuild to secure greater workplace stability that will in turn help them continue their coverage of local communities.
“We have unionized to advocate for ourselves and to support each other, to fight for fairness and equity and demand that Gannett treat us with the dignity we deserve,” the statement reads. “There is no local news without local journalists. We have unionized to preserve our high quality local news coverage and to build a better, more stable future.”
Though more than 70% of eligible members have indicated their support for unionization, Gannett has declined to voluntarily recognize the unit. Workers at the three papers will have to vote in a National Labor Relations Board election to get their union certified.
“We respect the right of employees at Asbury Park Press, the Courier News and the Home News Tribune to make a fully informed choice for themselves whether to unionize or not to unionize,” wrote Gannett labor relations counsel Thomas C. Zipfel in an emailed statement to Poynter. “Gannett strongly supports the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) election process and has always participated in that process fairly and in good faith. Central to that process is a democratic election in which every employee’s voice is heard.”
Journalists in the APP-MCJ Guild say they have “lived in fear for our livelihood” for the past decade as Gannett implemented rounds of layoffs and buyouts. Between the three papers, staff once “numbered in the hundreds” and is now down to fewer than 50 journalists.
The APP-MCJ Guild is the second Gannett union to form in New Jersey this year. In July, workers at the Bergen Record, the Daily Record and the NJ Herald voted to form the Record Guild. Digital producers working with the New Jersey newsrooms, along with other papers in Gannett’s Atlantic region, also voted earlier this month to form the Atlantic DOT Guild.
Since January, journalists across the country have launched over 30 union drives. Earlier this month, the NewsGuild broke its annual organizing record with more than 1,500 workers joining the union this year. The flurry of organizing is part of a larger labor movement within the journalism industry that first began in earnest in 2015.