Wednesday, November 25, 2020 9:26 pm

As Gannett mulls monstrous merger with GateHouse, Republic staff mulls union

 Can a union drive stop the Gannett-GateHouse Frankenstein? Probably not, but it might be fun to watch ’em try. /A. Duarte/Flickr via Phoenix New Times

By Stephen Lemons | Phoenix New Times

As yet another rapacious hedge fund considers devouring the Arizona Republic’s corporate parent, Gannett, the Rep’s journalists, or at least some of them, may be considering the benefits of organized labor.

One day after a Wall Street Journal article reported that Gannett, the No. 1 newspaper conglomerate in the country, was close to a merger with the No. 2 newsprint empire, GateHouse Media, Matthew Benson, a former Republic reporter-turned-PR consultant, chimed in with a curious tweet. He suggested that the Rep’s scribes may soon be doing their own live re-enactment of the classic pro-union film Norma Rae. 

“The biggest untold story in Arizona media?” Benson teased. “A concerted, behind-the-scenes push by [Republic] staff to unionize the state’s newspaper of record. Supporters seek a vote by late summer/fall. The newsroom is divided on the effort, which comes amid merger talks & rumored layoffs.”

Talk about a potential bombshell. Arizona, despite the recent Red for Ed movement, is a notoriously anti-labor, right-to-work state. And the Republic itself was run for decades by conservative newspaper magnate Eugene C. Pulliam, who was quoted once that the two things he despised most were “taxes and unions.”

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