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Several Gannett employees hold protest over recent layoffs

Several unionized Gannett employees stood outside Citis Global Technology Conference in NEW YORK on Friday morning to find the attention of Gannett CEO Mike Reed in the Hilton Hotel in Midtown.

Five people a variety of NewsGuild union staffers and Gannett employees unionized with the NewsGuild (and an inflatable rat named Scabby) wore matching red T-shirts and passed out a huge selection of flyers that read Gannett CEO Mike Reed is killing jobs and killing newsrooms. The protest had not been planned to become a work stoppage or mass participation event, in accordance with a NewsGuild staffer. The Gannett Regional Union chapter of the NewsGuild union includes over 200 members mostly located in NY and NJ.

The protestors ultimately spoke with Reed, who came outside and during the period of 5 minutes discussed the contract bargaining negotiations which have been going on since January, and also the unions main grievances with managements handling of the business, based on the protestors. He said he expected contract settlements with the union by the finish of the year, they said.

Gannett declined to comment, though a spokesperson confirmed Reed greeted the protestors and gave them water bottles.

Hes not easy and simple guy to find the attention of, said Adrian Szkolar, who protested. Szkolar is unit vice chair at Gannetts Atlantic Digital Optimization Team (DOT) and a producer at the business who oversees mostly New York-based digital news sites. I expected him to duck out, but he was ready to talk.

This is the initial such protest by Gannetts union.

We dont feel under Mike Reed that his decisions and corporate leadership are focused on actual journalism, with their own industry, Szkolar said. Szkolar cited Gannetts latest earnings report which showed digital-only subscription revenue was up 35% year-to-year. Individuals responsible for which are the journalists. That upsets us. They continue steadily to announce these layoffs at the thing they say is making them money, he said.

Gannett recently let go 400 employees (about 3% of the companys total workforce) and eliminated 400 open positions, despite receiving $16 million in taxpayer subsidies from the Paycheck Protection Program and a recently available $100 million stock buyback program.

With the recent layoffs, Gannett employees said they’re working under strained conditions with skeleton staff at local newsrooms. The union can be worried about employees salaries: the median Gannett employee makes $48,419, based on the union, with a minumum of one remote, full-time employee making around $30,000 per year.

The layoffs last month began weekly after the business announced it had lost $54 million on $749 million of revenues during its second quarter.

Last month, a huge selection of unionized Gannett journalists organized a national lunch out, where workers walked out at lunchtime and flooded executives inboxes by way of a Reply All tactic.

Digital media unions have already been busy the week of Labor Day: The NBC Guild delivered a letter to NBC News management signed by 210 unit members demanding a better go back to office plan and a reinstatement of several remote employees who have been fired. Dotdash Merediths union published a parody on People magazines long-running Half Their Size issue to call out recent layoffs and exits at the business. The Atlantics business and tech workers won a voluntary recognition of its union on Sept. 2.

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