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NLRB Files Labor Charges Against GateHouse Media

GateHouse Media

Formal labor charges have been filed against GateHouse Media, owner of the Rockford Register Star and Freeport Journal-Standard. The St. Louis-based United Media Guild is negotiating an initial contract for employees at the two papers.

The UMG claims that workers were unfairly targeted because of union activities.

The National Labor Relations Board office in Peoria confirmed investigators found that GateHouse Media threatened to outsource photography work to freelancers and imposed work schedule changes without prior negotiations.

Max Gersh, a photographer for the Rockford Register Star and unit chair for the Rockford Newspaper Guild, says its workers are suffering from a failure to raise wages.

“We have seen a lot of talent leave the newsroom over the last year because of wage freezes companywide,” he said. “Our newsroom hasn’t seen raises in seven years.”

The NLRB said GateHouse Media rejected proposals to resolve the charges. UMG president Jeff Gordon says the NLRB proposed that the newspaper publicly acknowledge labor-law violations and negotiate with the union properly in the future.

Rockford Register Star executive editor Mark Baldwin would not comment on the charges or negotiations. He said, “We don’t talk about those things.”

Gordon says the union has filed a new charge that Gersh has been singled out and punished due to actions for which other workers were not being disciplined.

A hearing on the current charges is scheduled February 10 in Peoria. Gordon says the date may be pushed back because of the new charge.