As E&P Reported in our February 2023 cover story, "Labor puts it all on the line,” 2022 was a very active year for union membership, walkouts and strikes. And perhaps no one knows this more than Jon Schleuss, the president of The NewsGuild - Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA).
Schleuss grew up in rural Arkansas, as he admits, in a "very republican world," where the idea of unions and strikes was far from the political discourse he and his family would ever discuss. Schleuss entered journalism at a young age at his college radio station. After graduation, he worked for Wehco Media as the online editor of their second-largest newspaper, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Later, he joined the Los Angeles Times as a data and graphics journalist, becoming involved in organized labor by being one of a small group that helped unionize the Times in 2018. In 2019, Schleuss ran for and won the presidency of the NewsGuild, where he has led their membership of more than 25,000 workers within over 200 media organizations throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Jon Schleuss keeps an office at the union’s headquarters in Washington, D.C, but spends much of his time "on the road," where many management vs. labor disputes are happening within our industry.
In the E&P cover story, Schleuss admitted, "I've spent much of my time working around the country, advocating for local unions and lobbying for legislation. In the last year, we had more strikes and one-day walkouts (or longer) than ever in the Guild's history."
When asked what he attributes to that growth and the particularly contentious year between news business owners and labor, Schleuss cited consolidation, "bad owners," and the startling number of jobs lost over a decade or more.
On May 23, 2023, Schleuss joined several Gannett/ Guild employees on a NewsGuild-CWA hosted webinar, where they discussed the “damage Chairman / CEO Mike Reed has done to the company." They stated, "Mike Reed's tenure has been a disaster for investors, communities and employees."
During the broadcast, Schleuss stated: “Mike Reed has been an utter disaster for Gannett. Rather than investing in the journalists at the heart of Gannett's success, Reed is destroying newsrooms and alienating readers while raking in millions. It's no surprise that Reed's slash-and-burn management style has sunk Gannett's stock price and driven talented journalists into the arms of its competitors. It's time for shareholders to show Mike Reed their disapproval — or risk even further damage to local newsrooms across the country."
In this episode of "E&P Reports," we go one-on-one with The NewsGuild - Communications Workers of America's President Jon Schleuss on why the past 12 months have had more strikes and walkouts than in the history of the Guild. He also offers insights on how hedge fund owners' entry and subsequent downsizing of so many news media properties today are hurting the workers they employ, the communities they serve and our democracy as a whole.
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