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Employees at the Springfield News-Leader, above, are seeking more local control.
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Employees at the Springfield News-Leader, above, are seeking more local control.

News-Leader employees plan to unionize

Posted online

Following the recently finalized $1.1 billion takeover of Gannett Co. Inc. by GateHouse Media Inc., employees at the Springfield News-Leader are planning to unionize.

The local employees are organizing as the Springfield News Guild, according to a news release issued yesterday.

“We hold governments, businesses and schools accountable. We capture and measure progress as it happens. We tell the stories of the incredible people who live here,” officials said in the release. “But that work has gotten harder and harder as faraway executives have ordered cut after cut to our staff and our service to the community.”

Gannett, which is the surviving company name through the merger deal, owns the News-Leader, USA Today and some 260 other daily papers.

The release states “every full-time Springfield News-Leader staffer is filing a card with the government this week calling for a vote to establish a union.” Amos Bridges, the News-Leader’s newly appointed editor, said he and the publication’s other managers are not included in the union plans.

Katie Kull, a News-Leader reporter named in the release, deferred questions to her colleague Steve Pokin, who could not be reached for comment by deadline.

“Negotiating a contract with Gannett that includes fair wages and benefits will allow us to create more stable reporting jobs and keep experienced staffers from leaving because their families just can’t afford it anymore,” officials said in the release. “It will also give us a seat at the table the next time the company orders layoffs or cost-cutting measures.”

The Springfield News Guild is working with St. Louis-based United Media Guild, which is part of the Washington, D.C.-based NewsGuild, said Stephanie Basile, an organizer of the national union group. The latter company also is a sector of Communications Workers of America.

A news release on NewsGuild’s website states another Gannett-owned newspaper, the Arizona Republic, voted in October 2019 to establish a union.

Last month, Bridges took over for Cheryl Whitsitt in a move that cut a full-time position from the newsroom.

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shelia wright

i do hope that joining a union will help the local newspaper reporters. it is a shame that the local news leader employees can barely afford to support their families. i knew several reporters when i was on council and was shocked to learn their long hours and paltry pay. each reporter left the paper for a local job in their field.all 3 of my daughters received great educations in springfielod. they were shocked to learn how dumb their college classmates were.all 3 of my daughters went to different colleges but we heard the same report from 3 girls as they progressed thru college.

all 3 of them graduated in 3 years and are employed in 3 different states.

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