AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several Austin American-Statesman staffers who are also members of the Austin NewsGuild picketed in downtown Austin Friday afternoon. The protest took place in front of the former Statesman headquarters at 305 S. Congress Ave.
Those picketing called for “fair pay, benefits and transparency,” according to an Austin NewsGuild press release. The demonstration came weeks after the Statesman’s parent company, Gannett, announced buyouts, suspensions of its 401(k) company match and furloughs, per the release.
Gannett CEO Mike Reed updated company staff members of the decision in a pre-recorded message Oct. 12. Gannett announced layoffs and the loss of approximately 400 open positions back in August, per the release.
In a statement, a Gannett spokesperson told KXAN the company’s goal is to “preserve journalism and serve our communities.”
“Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our communities across the country,” the spokesperson said. “Despite the anticipated work stoppage in some of our markets, we will not cease delivering trusted news to our loyal readers. In addition, we continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees.”
Members of the Austin NewsGuild are protected against layoffs, furloughs and lost 401(k) company matches; however, managers and editors have lost their 401(k) matches and are required to take furloughs in December. The NewsGuild won an Unfair Labor Practice charge last December over Gannett’s suspension of members’ 401(k) matches, deemed a violation of “status quo protections that are in place while the contract is negotiated.”
The release said many Statesman employees have received a raise in more than five years, adding company decisions to cut staff and coverage have impacted the newspaper’s operations.