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Austin American-Statesman journalists, employees strike on Monday

Unionized employees with the newspaper are asking for a $60,000 wage floor.

AUSTIN, Texas — Union workers at the Austin American-Statesman were on strike on Monday as part of an effort to secure a $60,000 wage floor.

The strike was part of a nationwide action by journalists at Gannett, which owns the 152-year-old Austin paper, on the day of the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Hundreds of union journalists, editors, photographers and page designers from two dozen newsrooms across the country participated in the strike, according to a release from the union, NewsGuild.

Since merging with GateHouse Media in 2019, Gannett has seen several job cuts, the union said. A GoFundMe for the Austin NewsGuild workers said Austin alone lost 33% of its newsroom in two years, though the Statesman needs more staff to cover a growing community.

Striking workers are calling on shareholders to withhold their vote on Gannett CEO Mike Reed during the June 5 meeting. Last month, NewsGuild workers sent a letter to Gannett shareholders urging a vote of no-confidence against Reed, claiming that under his management, the company has neglected investing in local newsrooms to service its debt burden.

Austin staff say they are asking for a $60,000 wage floor for Statesman employees, who live in a city where the average home price is over $560,000.

The Austin NewsGuild said that earlier this year, management at the Dallas Morning News agreed to a $55,000 wage floor for union members and management at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram agreed to a $52,000 wage floor. The average home price in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is $484,603, the union said.

“Gannett must invest in its employees to save the future of the American-Statesman,” the release said. “The guild has been negotiating for two years with the company, and we urge the company to stop stalling and work with union members toward a reasonable and fair contract.”

Union members gathered on Monday, June 5, at 11 a.m. at the Congress Avenue Bridge in front of the old site of the Austin American-Statesman building, located at 305 S. Congress Ave., to publicly picket.

When KVUE reached out to Gannett for a statement, we received the following response from a Statesman spokesperson:

"Despite the work stoppage, there will be no disruption to the content or delivery of the Austin American-Statesman. Our goal is to preserve local journalism and serve our community as we bargain to finalize a contract that provides equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees."

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