The strike is on: No contract deal reached with Democrat & Chronicle workers

Democrat & Chronicle workers now on strike

Democrat & Chronicle workers now on strike

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The strike is on. Reporters and photographers at the Democrat & Chronicle went on strike just after midnight.

And when the sun came up, they were picketing in front of the newspaper building on Main Street.

The staff are part of the Newspaper Guild of Rochester. They say they’ve been without a contract since before anyone here ever heard of the word “COVID.”

They want what they believe are fair, livable wages, as well as protections around layoffs and from health care costs that eat away at their paychecks.

“And we want to be protected against artificial intelligence so that in two to three years, that’s not coming to take our jobs.” Justin Murphy, Democrat & Chronicle reporter and vicechair of the Newspaper Guild of Rochester, said.

Gary Craig, a Democrat & Chronicle journalist since 1990, said, “Throughout the years it’s been the same old story; people don’t see raises, nothing keeps up with the cost of living, people are struggling to get by.”

At midnight Friday, Craig confirmed no contact deal with Gannett had been reached by midnight, meaning a strike was in effect. The guild’s members voted earlier this week to strike Saturday if a deal was not reached Friday.

Craig said the guild membership is 24 members, employees of the Democrat & Chronicle and the (Canandaigua) Daily Messenger.

Earlier Friday, Amy Garrard, vice president of labor relations at Gannett, issued the following statement:

“Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our community as we continue to bargain in good faith. Democrat and Chronicle readers can be assured there will be no disruption to our ability to deliver content and trusted news.”

A member of the guild at the picket Saturday morning Gannett has shut down their work phones in response to the strike. Posts from the guild on social media say that Gannett had told staff the phones were for personal as well as work use.

The strike comes ahead of the total solar eclipse on Monday.

In an interview with News10NBC on Thursday, Craig went into more detail on the issues at hand.

“We have new, young employees who really have a hard time living off a salary; middle career employees who’ve just seen nothing in the way of raises for years and years and are really, especially with the workload they carry, are incredibly underpaid. And veteran employees, too, who haven’t seen increases either,” Craig said Thursday.

He said the guild membership, which also includes staff at the Daily Messenger in Canandaigua, is down to 24 members, maybe a quarter of what it used to be.

“I’ve been here 34 years and really it’s been 20-plus years of layoffs, downsizing, buyouts, furloughs. My staff the early years was 100-plus reporters and photographers. Our membership in the guild is down to 24 people – that’s a combination reporters, photographers, designers, whichever. And the community definitely sees it; they definitely see sadly how we’re failing to cover things that we need to be covering. We bust our butt every day to do what we can, but there’s so much that we miss,” Craig said.

As of 2022, the Democrat & Chronicle has a daily circulation of over 27,000, with the Sunday paper reaching 42,000 people. Despite a drop in circulation, it remains in the top 100 daily newspapers in the U.S. Since the Times-Union merger in 1997, the Democrat & Chronicle is Rochester’s only daily circulated newspaper.

Earlier broadcast from Thursday, April 4:

Gannett workers prepare to strike if no deal reached

Gannett workers prepare to strike if no deal reached