Frequently Asked Questions

Who are we and why are we unionizing?


We are reporters, producers, columnists, copy editors, social media experts, photographers, videographers and news assistants who call Arizona home. Some of us have decades of experience while others are just beginning their careers. Two very important things bring us together: We care about serving our community and holding the state’s institutions accountable. But we’ve watched our newsroom shrink and our footprint in the community start to vanish with it. We’ve been subject to annual layoffs, stagnant pay and dwindling benefits. It’s time to have a seat at the table. It’s time to have a say in our working conditions.
It’s time to unite to build our vision for this newspaper and its place in the community.




Why should I join?


To have a collective voice for the newsroom. The only way we can do that is by garnering as much support as possible. With strong support, we’ll be able to negotiate for improved working conditions in areas that matter: healthcare costs, salaries, layoff protections, overtime, parental leave and more.




There are no union papers at Gannett, right?


Wrong! 12 Gannett properties are unionized, including larger papers like the Indianapolis Star, the Detroit Free Press and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.




How about newsrooms outside Gannett? Are they unionized?


Yep, and you’ve probably heard of them. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Denver Post, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and many others have been unionized for decades. More recently, 30+ publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Virginian Pilot, Capital Gazette, Buzzfeed, Law360 and others have formed Guild units.




What benefits do Guild members at other newspapers receive?


We're updating this! Check back soon!




What are the steps to forming a union?


First, we’re checking with everyone to see who’s supportive. If a strong majority is supportive, we’ll ask everyone to sign a union authorization card, which will get the formal process going. Signing a card just means you’re in favor of a union. It is confidential from the company. Gannett does not see who signs, only the total number. A large number helps us win leverage at the bargaining table. So everyone who signs helps us ensure a stronger contract.

We’ll hand those over to the National Labor Relations Board to initiate a vote, which will happen at a later date. Then, if a majority votes “yes,” we’ll have a union.
Even before an election, Gannett has the opportunity to voluntarily recognize us — which would allow us to skip voting and get to the bargaining table immediately. That would be really cool! But it doesn't always happen.

If an election is scheduled, we'll continue to see pushback from the company. This could take the form of more efforts to divide us and forced meetings and emails aimed at eroding our support. Or it could be nice treatment aimed at making us forget why we need a union in the first place. We’ll prepare for those beforehand, weather them together and ensure a strong election victory. After winning the election, we start the real work: negotiating a contract. We will take a detailed survey of the newsroom to understand everyone's priorities. Once bargaining begins, we will work together as a newsroom to encourage the company to negotiate in good faith and agree to a strong contract. The more participation we have, the better the contract we can get for everyone. Once negotiations are done, the newsroom will vote on the contract. For the ratification vote to win, we will need to bargain a strong contract that benefits everyone.

This process can take months or even more than a year. But in between, we have new rights, such as status quo, which means the company must bargain with us if it wants to make a change to our working conditions such as layoffs.

The merger makes the timeline a bit more complicated. In the most likely scenario, if we were unionized by the time the merger is completed, the new Gannett would have a small window to set the company's salary and benefit structure and then sit down at the bargaining table with us. Of course, the company would have unfettered ability to set our salaries and benefits if we weren't unionized. At least with a union, we can push back if there are cuts and lock benefits into place for the future in a contract.




Is everyone represented by the union?


Managers — which means directors, editors and anyone else that has supervisory authority over employees — are not. We’re working with the NewsGuild to figure out exactly who is included in our unit and who is not. If you’re not sure where you stand, just ask a member of the organizing committee or our NewsGuild representative, Stephanie Basile.




Will I get fired if I participate?


That’s illegal. Check out the National Labor Relations Act, which protects employees from retaliation for organizing. Yes, corporations still do illegal things. But your colleagues, the NewsGuild and the Guild’s attorneys have your back. Plus, the more people that participate, the more everyone is protected.




Arizona is a “right-to-work” state. What does that mean?


Being in a right-to-work state just means we can’t force anyone to pay union dues. What it doesn’t mean: that we can’t unionize. Because we absolutely can! Many unions exist in Arizona and other right-to-work states. If you enjoy reading through state law, Arizona’s labor statutes are found in Title 23.




How can a union minimize the impact of layoffs?


Unions can bargain for a lot when it comes to layoffs, including requiring the company to give advance notice about how many people it plans to lay off, provide justifications for the layoffs and give better severance packages. Remember the anxiety at The Republic in December and January? We’d like to lessen that in the future. We can also negotiate what are called “voluntary layoffs,” which is when employees already planning to leave can volunteer to go to reduce the cuts to others.




How would unionizing affect my salary?


As the collective voice for the newsroom, we will advocate for whatever benefits our newsroom wants. Before proposing a contract, we'll take a detailed survey to understand everyone's priorities. Informally, we’ve talked to a big chunk of employees already and most say they’d like their pay to increase. We know that unionized workplaces nationally are paid better than non-union, whether it's higher starting salaries, higher salaries for experienced employees, or annual cost-of-living increases. Yes, unions come with dues — the NewsGuild constitution sets them at about 1.38% of your salary — but those don’t come out of your paycheck until we successfully bargain a contract. And you should know: Unions do not stop you from negotiating a raise individually, nor do they prevent you from getting a merit-based raise.




I work at another Gannett newspaper. Will you help me organize?


Yes! We would love for all our Gannett colleagues to be organized. We can talk with you, share what we’ve learned and assist you in making your newsroom a better place to work.

Email us at azrepublicguild@gmail.com.




When would I start paying dues?


You won't pay dues until our first contract is voted on and ratified, which is likely months from now. The dues are about 1.38% of salary. It's important for the contract to provide a net benefit to employees higher than the dues, otherwise it's unlikely to pass a vote. That's why it's important for everybody to participate during bargaining to encourage the company to agree to a strong contract.





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