The New York Daily News owned by Tribune Publishing and three local dailies in New Jersey owned by the Gannett chain have unionized their newsrooms with the News Guild of New York.
The three Gannett-owned papers include The Record of Bergen County, the Daily Record in Morris County and the NJ Herald in Sussex County. All three are banding together to form one bargaining unit, the Record Guild.
“In fewer than five years Gannett has turned each into a shadow of their former selves,” said Terrence McDonald, a reporter with The Record.
The Guild said about 90 percent of the eligible employees opted for union representation at the Jersey paper and it has asked Gannett, to give voluntary recognition.
Gannett, owner of USA Today and the largest newspaper chain in the country, had traditionally been anti-union. One of the largest newspapers in its chain, the Arizona Republic, unionized as Gannett was being taken over by Gatehouse Media in a $1.4 billion deal in 2014.
In March, the company instituted pay cuts and furloughs and in December shed 500 employees via voluntary buyouts. The company said it recently renegotiated $1 billion in debt that Gatehouse parent company New Media Investment Group used to finance the takeover.
Gannett had not returned a request for comment on the unionization of the three newsrooms.
“We are asking Tribune Publishing, the News’ parent company, to voluntarily recognize our union without delay,” the Guild said in its mission statement, which said pay, benefits and diversity were all on the table.
At the Daily News, where about 70 newsroom employees last week opted in for the union, it actually marks a return to the Guild, which previously represented the Daily News when it employed over 400 newsroom employees. At the time the union was known as the Newspaper Guild.
Tribune had owned the paper until 1993 but after a Newspaper Guild strike, it was sold first to the Robert Maxwell, known as the bouncing Czech, and then to real estate developer Mort Zuckerman and his partner Fred Drasner.
Tribune had not returned a call seeking comment.