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Sun, Oct. 20

Arizona Republic staffers set to vote on unionization

Courier stock photo

Courier stock photo

PHOENIX — The management at the state’s largest newspaper is warning staffers that any move to unionize actually could lose them some of their current benefits.

“Bargaining remains a two-way street,’’ reads the memo memo distributed in the past week in newsroom of the Arizona Republic.

And what that means, it says, is that as much as the proposed NewsGuild unit can make demands, “the company can make demands for concessions as well.’’

The memo — there is no name of an author on it — also suggests to those who might be tempted to vote to unionize that they could be sold out by the leaders of the movement who are “going to have the loudest voice.’’

“Do you trust them with your future? — because if you vote for the Guild, that is what you’ll be doing,’’ it reads.

The memo comes ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote among more than 100 staffers of whether to form a union. Management also has brought in staff from other papers in the Gannett chain to talk about their own experiences at union papers.

It may also be a sign that Republic and Gannett executives are worried: Pro-organization forces have shown strength, having submitted cards seeking an election from more than 70 percent of those eligible to vote.

But Richard Ruelas, one of the pro-union leaders, said even if staffers trust Gannett and the current crop of Republic executives to treat them well, that hardly provides any security for the next round of layoffs.

Key to that is the planned takeover of the Gannett empire and its more than 100 publications nationwide by GateHouse Media in a deal worth about $1.4 billion. The combined organization, which will operate under the Gannett name, will have more than 260 daily newspapers and more than 300 weeklies.

More to the point is that officials of both companies have argued they can cut costs by as much as $300 million.

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