AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin American-Statesman journalists went on strike Monday in an effort to improve salaries and benefits.
The strike is one of many put on by journalists working for Gannett, which owns the Austin American-Statesman.
Journalists are upset with wages and tell KXAN the company has not invested in their local newsroom, they are asking for a $60,000 floor salary.
“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 communities as we bargain to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees,” an Austin American-Statesman spokesperson told KXAN in a statement.
“It is a very expensive place to live and, of course, a lot of people in Austin are feeling that and that includes our journalists,” Statesman K-12 education reporter Keri Heath said.
Heath said inflation and the cost of living have been challenging and it’s forcing some journalists to leave the profession.
Luz Moreno-Lozano said her last day was Monday and she will be moving on to another job that pays more. Moreno-Lozano covered local government and city hall for the Statesman.
“Over time Gannett has come in and slashed our newsroom and it has gotten harder and harder to cover all of the areas we used to,” Morenoz-Lozano said. “It is not like we are asking for much it is literally being able to live in the city we cover.”
Monday’s strike was a one-day walkout, but journalists with the news outlet said there could be more.
Statesman journalists have been negotiating for a new contract with Gannett for two years, according to journalists at the strike.
“We are asking for a $60,000 wage floor for all starting reporters, I think at this point it is close to 40,000 and if you look at MFI that is enough to qualify for affordable housing,” Moreno-Lozano said.
The walkouts coincided with Gannett’s annual shareholder meeting, during which the company’s board was duly elected despite the NewsGuild-CWA union urging shareholders to withhold their votes from CEO and board chairman Mike Reed as an expression of no confidence in his leadership.
Reed has overseen the company since its 2019 merger with GateHouse Media, a tumultuous period that has included layoffs and the shuttering of newsrooms. Gannett shares have dropped more than 60% since the deal closed.