Our first fact check!
Time to get out your Bingo card. August 22nd's email from management means you can cross off the typical company anti-union response: “Have you done your research?”
But hey, we’re journalists. We love research!!! So here’s some information Gannett didn’t share.
Q. How might a union contract impact reporters’ flexible work hours?
Let’s ask an Indy Star reporter who is part of the Guild but not a leader:
“Work hours are flexible, as is where you work, though some of this is dependent on job title and who your manager is and what expectations are. The folks on the digital side, for instance, work out of the office almost all the time. The folks in sports are rarely here. Most of the rest of us are somewhere in between. A lot of this arrangement has to do with what I perceive to be a strong, positive working relationship between most of middle management and reporters.”
Sounds a lot like our newsroom, doesn’t it?
Here’s the difference: Indy’s flexible work hours are protected in a contract: “Employer will permit flexible hours, job-sharing and work out of homes when both the employee and the department head agree on this arrangement.”
In our newsroom, the company can change our flexible work styles at any moment without our input. With a union, we all get to decide what we value and vote to protect those benefits in our contract.
Q. Do union workers in other Gannett newsrooms get the same number of paid vacation days as the Phoenix newsroom?
Oddly, Gannett omitted the fact that we have 0 sick days, while other unionized Gannett papers have multiple sick days and personal days. The email also misleadingly presented the years in which employees earn additional paid time off.
When looking at the actual totals, you will see that some unionized Gannett papers receive more time off than we do and more time off than non-unionized GateHouse papers.
Republic (Non-Union) 0 sick days 3 floating holidays 0-2 years: 15 personal days 3-9 years: 25 personal days 10-24: 28 personal days 25+ years: 32 personal days TOTAL: 18-35 days
GateHouse (Non-Union) 5 sick days 2 floating holidays 5 personal days 0-5 years: 10 vacation days 6-10 years: 15 vacation days 11+ years: 20 vacation days TOTAL: 22-32 days
Indy (Union) 10 sick days 7 personal days 3 months-1 year: 5 vacation days 1-4 years: 10 vacation days 5-11 years: 15 vacation days 12+ years: 20 vacation days TOTAL: 22-37 days
Q. If the Guild is voted in, will reporters who are currently exempt be changed to hourly non-exempt?
We will decide together what we want in our contract. We don't have to request a change to our number of salaried workers, but if we wish to negotiate for hourly employment, we could see advantages.
At the Indy Star, nearly all non-management employees are hourly, unlike the Republic, where many of us — especially veteran journalists — are salaried and ineligible for OT.
Indy’s OT policies also are more generous than ours:
If an Indy employee is called back to work after completing a full shift, they receive a minimum of 3 hours OT pay no matter how long they work. If an Indy employee is called in on their day off, they receive a minimum of 4.5 hours OT pay.
At the Republic, it doesn't work that way.
We’ve all had to leave a family dinner or interrupt a vacation to put in extra hours, often without getting “comp time” or pay. With a union, we could negotiate a system that allows our newsroom to act quickly, while fairly compensating people for their work.
Q: Is the organizing drive a Millennial conspiracy?
Of course not. This is a newsroom-wide effort, meaning there are many supporters in every department and among every demographic, including among our most respected veterans. Would a union be successful if it didn’t represent everyone? You know the answer: No.
Here’s the point:
Every contract is different because every newsroom is different. However, the research shows one common thing: union workplaces are paid better, have stronger camaraderie and have a seat at the table.
We will decide as a newsroom what we want to protect in our contract and what we want to improve.
Everyone working together will make this newsroom the strongest it can be.
Arizona Republic Guild