Journalists at the Bergen Record and two other New Jersey dailies owned by Gannett — the Daily Record in Morris County and the New Jersey Herald in Newton — voted overwhelmingly to unionize.
The News Guild of New York said Friday the vote was 59-4 in favor of the union, which will be called the Record Guild.
The results come only a week after the New York Daily News, owned by Tribune Publishing, voted 55 to 3 to be represented by the Guild. In that case, it was a return to Guild representation which had ceased at some point about 20 years earlier when then owner Mort Zuckerman refused to negotiate a new contract.
The three New Jersey papers had turned in cards in February saying they wanted to be represented by the Guild. But Gannett had refused voluntary recognition, necessitating a vote supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. Voting wrapped up April 23, but results were only tallied on Friday.
Gannett, even before its acquisition by GateHouse Media in November 2019, had made deep cuts at The Record when it acquired it for $40 million in 2016 when it bought the family-owned North Jersey Media Group. The Record’s newsroom was cut by 50 percent and its copy desk was consolidated with other Gannett-owned papers across New Jersey including the Asbury Park Press.
Gannett, which owns USA Today, has traditionally been a non-union company. When it was taken over by GateHouse in 2019, the trend toward unionization picked up steam with one of the larger dailies under its umbrella, the Arizona Republic, voting to unionize just as the $1.4 billion Gannett acquisition by GateHouse was getting finalized. That deal combined the largest chain by total papers, Gatehouse, with the largest by total circulation, Gannett. The new company kept the Gannett name.
The newspaper giant and the national HQ of the News Guild-CWA clashed most recently over a study released by the union last week claiming that women and minorities were seriously underpaid on the 14 papers that have Guild representation compared to the pay of white men. Gannett struck back claiming the data was outdated and inaccurate and was being produced to aid the Guild’s unionization drives.
But at least at the outset in New Jersey, the two sides are playing nice. A union spokesman said that the next step is to form a bargaining committee, come up with proposals on pay and diversity and go to the bargaining table.
“We respect the rights of our employees and their decision,” a spokesperson for the publisher said. “Gannett is committed to bargaining in good faith as we have in our other Guild-represented newsrooms. We will move forward as the leading news organization in New Jersey, focused on our mission — delivering quality journalism that makes our communities better.”