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Florida Times-Union journalists, supporters rally in Downtown Jacksonville ahead of Tuesday strike

Florida Times-Union Guild workers are joining a wave of newsroom strikes across the country, demanding increased wages from their corporate owner Gannett.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A group of Jacksonville journalists are preparing to strike after rallying Monday downtown at the Riverfront Plaza, across from the Florida Times-Union office.

Florida Times-Union workers are joining a wave of newsroom strikes across the country, demanding increased wages from their corporate owner, Gannett.

The newspaper’s union has been negotiating with Gannett for five years and still has not received a pay raise. Gannett’s latest offer would give pay increases to only one quarter of newsroom employees. These journalists said that’s not enough.

Reporters, newspaper alumni and supporters chanted “protect local news, protect local news, protect local news” while walking on Bay Street.

According to the local employee union, Gannett has cut editorial staff at the paper by 75 percent since 2016, from 90 to just 22.

Reporter Alexandria Mansfield said the newspaper has been responsible for exposing stories like the failed attempt to sell JEA, which helped kill the deal and prompted federal criminal indictments.

“With us uncovering what was going to happen with the privatization and possible sale of JEA and then that impacting the community in a huge way so that the community can understand what’s going on with their own money,” Mansfield said.

The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America is urging Gannett stockholders to vote out Chairman and CEO Mike Reed at an annual meeting Monday.

Wells Todd doesn’t work at the paper but he supports the work they do.

“The truth has to get out,” Todd said, “and I think one of the things we’re struggling with nowadays is that the bosses basically don’t want the truth to get out.”

The St. Augustine Record, also owned by Gannett, has just one reporter now, according to the local union.

Mansfield said she hopes the company will offer a better deal to local journalists.

“We’re not expecting to get rich, especially in print journalism,” Mansfield said. “But we do want to be fairly compensated. We want to be able to live in the communities we’re serving, so we can better serve them, and we can be part of the communities we’re in.”

A GoFundMe, now closed, raised money for the wages journalists will miss while on strike Tuesday.

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