Top executives at the hedge fund that owns Digital First Media must have felt terrible that employees at the newspaper company weren’t getting any raises in 2017. So they did something about it. They gave themselves a raise.
DFM management came to a bargaining session empty-handed, telling a national coalition of NewsGuild representatives that the company’s hedge fund ownership intends to keep employee pay frozen companywide to help maintain its profits. Alden Global Capital, principal owner of Digital First Media, has earned worldwide notoriety for its ruthless staff cuts and double-digit profit margins. The ongoing damage to newsrooms across the country has triggered protests from New York to Denver to the Bay Area.
A broad coalition of 1,500 unionized news workers will conduct a joint day of action on May 3 — World Press Freedom Day — as part of a national campaign to protest the corporate-led assault on quality journalism. The coordinated effort by NewsGuild members will span 29 newspapers owned by GateHouse Media and Digital First Media. It will support the fight for quality journalism at those papers and highlight the damage wrought by draconian cuts in their newsrooms and other departments.
Thirteen Guild-CWA bargaining units representing newsroom, advertising, circulation, and production departments at Digital First Media opened joint negotiations for a wage increase Thursday in Denver. Union negotiators proposed a $1 per hour raise for all employees effective July 1. Management offered no proposal, stating that budgeting is under way for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, and that managers won’t be prepared to begin serious negotiations until June.
Representatives of the 12 Digital First Media Guild bargaining units met jointly with DFM management in Denver this week in an effort to reach agreement on all DFM contracts.
Nearly 1,000 employees at a dozen DFM papers have gone years without raises — in some cases, a decade — while many have had to live with actual cuts in earnings and benefits.