Detroit’s Two Major Newspapers Working Without Union Contract

Will journalists at Detroit’s two biggest newspapers strike again after 20 years?


For the first time in 20 years, our region’s two big newspapers — The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press — are operating without an active union contract. Contract negotiations in the mid 1990s led to strikes and anger among working journalists. The strikes also resulted in a massive loss of paid subscriptions, many of which were never recovered. 

Bill Shea is with Crain’s Detroit Business, and often covers the business of local media. Bill spoke with WDET’s Laura Weber-Davis about the current contract negotiations, and if they could lead to another strike. Shea says it’s highly unlikely the reporters would strike again, and it could spell the end of one or both of the papers.

Here is a segment from Shea’s article on the negotiations:

The Newspaper Guild of Detroit Local 34022, representing the newsrooms of both newspapers along with those of the Observer & Eccentric papers, said four bargaining sessions with management and lawyers for Gannett Co. Inc. have failed to result in a new deal.

The union said management told negotiators that an extension of the current deal wasn’t necessary, and pledged to operate under terms of the contract.

Local union leaders are displeased with that arrangement, especially because the most recent contract was extended into March to give Gannett more time to ready itself for talks.

“We find it to be a petty move on their part,” said John Gallagher, president of the local newspapers guild and a Free Press business reporter.