Wednesday, December 08, 2021

UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES: UF researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data, Faculty Senate panel alleges more violations of academic freedom. Says staff was told not to contradict state on pandemic issues. (Tampa Bay Times)





Learning that professors at a once-respected academic institution are being treated shabbily by DeSANTIS and his henchmen should make us all sick at heart.

The McCarthyite, Soviet-style climate of fear and repression at the University of Florida has reached pathological levels under misanthropic Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS. 

When tenured factually feel compelled to trim their sails and destroy their data, when research is contaminated by Dull Republican politics, it's time for a change.

I've seen pressures on scientists in places like the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program in California, and retaliatory workplaces like EPA.  

As Justice Robert Houghwot Jackson, our prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, wrote for the Supreme Court in the flag salute case, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."  West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

On behalf of all of the college secretaries, my mother once wrote her N.J. county college president that "We submit that an educational institution should not be run as a dictatorship."

UF is being run as a dictatorship,  Governor DeSANTIS and his henchmen at UF should be shown the door.  We don't need thought control at UF.

Governor DeSANTIS, leave our university professors unbiased, unbullied and unmolesed.  

Drop the oyster and leave the wharf, as my grandmother would day.

From Tampa Bay Times:

UF researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data, faculty report says
Faculty Senate panel alleges more violations of academic freedom. Says staff was told not to contradict state on pandemic issues.


By Divya Kumar

Fear of upsetting state officials is pervasive among faculty at the University of Florida, to the point that race-related references have been edited out of course materials and researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data, according to a report released Monday by a Faculty Senate committee.

The six-person panel was convened three weeks ago to investigate academic freedom issues after the university decided to bar three political science professors from testifying in a lawsuit against the state. But its findings go well beyond that episode and were so disturbing — especially regarding COVID-19 research — that the group decided to speed up its work, said Danaya Wright, a constitutional law professor and former Faculty Senate chairperson who served on the committee.

“We knew it was much more widespread,” Wright said in an interview Monday. “We knew there was more silencing and pressure coming from above. The Big Above.”

The committee received a flood of input from faculty, from stories about attempts to serve as expert witnesses to instances that dealt with race and COVID-19 research across disciplines.

The report discusses several “challenges” faced by UF researchers who were working on COVID-19 with an unidentified state entity. It describes “external pressure to destroy” data as well as “barriers” to accessing, analyzing and publishing the numbers. Taken together, the report said, those problems “inhibited the ability of faculty to contribute scientific findings during a world-wide pandemic.”

The report further states that UF employees were told “not to criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to COVID-19 in media interactions.” It says they were told not to use their UF titles or affiliation in written commentary or to give oral presentations. And faculty at UF Health expressed concerns over funding being in jeopardy if they did not adopt the state’s stance on pandemic regulations in opinion articles, the report says.

The allegations related to data destruction added a sense of urgency to the committee’s work, Wright said.

“COVID research, it is life and death to not be able to do your job,” Wright said. “To have your research that you’ve trained for so many years to be able to do, to have that research tabled, put on the shelf and ignored and not get it out there to the academic community to get it out there and see if it’s going to do any good.”

The report also details other allegations, including that “websites were required to be changed, that course syllabi had to be restructured, and that use of the terms “critical” and “race” could not appear together in the same sentence or document.”

All allegations were kept confidential due to fear of retaliation.

“More problematic than the individual examples of pressure to stifle unpopular viewpoints or restrict research was the palpable reticence and even fear on the part of faculty to speak up on these issues,” the report states. “There was grave concern about retaliation and a sense that anyone who objected to the state of affairs might lose his or her job or be punished in some way.”

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

As a tenured faculty member, Wright said she feels a duty to speak up, though she said she wishes the issue was not perceived as faculty versus administration.

“We’ve reached a point where many faculty feel that wherever this pressure is coming from, it is interfering with our duty and loyalty and commitment and responsibility to seek the truth and make that knowledge available,” she said. “Faculty desperately want to do our jobs.”

The source of the pressure remains unclear, she said.

Just before the Thanksgiving break, a task force convened by the university reached a different conclusion on the issue of academic freedom, saying in its own report that “the University of Florida Board of Trustees ensures that the institution is free from undue influence by external persons or bodies through clear and consistently enforced policies and procedures.”


Asked on Monday to comment on the Faculty Senate report, the university declined.

The faculty report states that “the lack of documented rules and procedures” make understanding denials of participation in outside activity difficult. It said the committee contacted members of the administration, but that outreach “did not yield much new information.”

One administrator said he was advised by the university’s general counsel not to comment because of pending litigation, the report said. Six professors, including the three involved in the initial controversy over not being allowed to testify, have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Wright said she herself was told she could contact any lawmakers as long as they were not from Florida regarding potential legislation she is drafting pertaining to wills and trusts — an issue she contends should be noncontroversial. She said deans tend to be the bearers of the bad news, but that most faculty believe the orders come from above.

“We don’t know how many people it’s filtered through,” she said.

The report also contains talks with faculty who imposed self-censorship on their work, unsure how to proceed or if they may face consequences.

Wright, who has been at UF for 24 years, said the university has always had a culture of “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” But while she’s appreciative to the Legislature for its support, she said the faculty is working for the taxpayers, who are funding their jobs.


“Ultimately our loyalty is to the people of Florida and to the search for knowledge,” she said. “If things above that are interfering with that, regardless of where that’s coming from, we can’t do our jobs. … We have one job as faculty and that is to discover, create truth, knowledge and push the boundaries of human understanding and then to promulgate that information to the public.”

The committee’s report also referred to remarks on Friday by Mori Hosseini, chairperson of UF’s board of trustees, who blasted faculty members who have spoken out in recent weeks about academic freedom. He called others disrespectful, and said that some had abused their positions. He said their behavior “will not stand.”

The school’s response, including “hasty and limited” efforts to review policies, have not addressed larger issues, the report said. Among them, it said, are “the serious reports of efforts to stifle the scientific and medical community’s research into and professional duty to report the developing scientific information on Covid-19.”

The report said the committee hopes the university will “ultimately address these concerns and contribute to enhancing the integrity and mission of UF as a respected institution of higher learning so that the people of Florida will benefit from a world-class institution that they have paid so much to create and support and to which they are so deserving.”

Divya Kumar - Higher Education and Nonprofits Reporter


Sunday, December 05, 2021

Senator Bob Dole, R.I.P.



Senator Bob Dole served his country honorably in war and peace. Dole died today at age 98. 

May he rest in peace.

Bob Dole helped enact the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights law. His first Senate speech was on disability rights.

The 1996 Republican Presidential candidate, Bob Dole, and our liberal lion former St. Augustine Beach neighbor, the late South Dakota Democratic U.S. Senator George S. McGovern (our 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee) worked bipartisan magic when they worked on Food for Peace, WIC  and food stamp benefits.   

Senator McGovern was eloquent, full of praise and authentic when he spoke about his bipartisan work with Senator Dole here in St. Augustine, both in public and in private (at Passover Seder in St. Augustine Beach at home of Andrea and Robert Sazmuels, my first Seder and Senator McGovern's second seder.) 


There was a genuine affection between the two unsuccessful presidential candidates from 1972 and 1976, just as there was genuine respect between Senator McGovern and Barry Goldwater, unsuccessful 1964 Republican Presidential candidates. 

Before the Koch Brothers and Russian weaponized hate, American politics was different.

We were kinder and gentler.

President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neil respected each other, would share a drink and a laugh and a deal. Then they would resume normal partisan. activities, but they knew democracy works when we talk and work together,  

Once there was more civility, comity and cooperation between people of diverse views in Congress, and in public life.  In honor of Bob Dole, we need to restore public confidence in public servants, and disdain "public serpents" who are all hatred all the time, like so many arachnid apparatchiks and their online obnoxiousness now.

While Dole made mean-spirited remarks about "Democrat wars" while running for Vice President in 1976, Dole's service to humanity on food issues will always be remembered.  

And while Bob Dole once agreed to lend House Republican Leader Newt Gingrich $300,000 to pay an ethics fine, Dole wisely relented after withering criticism, including my April 21, 1998 letter, published in The New York Times, to wit:

Indentured to Tobacco

To the Editor:

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's $300,000 penalty is being paid by a balloon loan from Bob Dole, with payment due in eight years. You report (front page, April 18) that the Washington corporate law firm where former Senator Dole has just become a partner represents the tobacco industry in liability settlement talks. It is also reported that whatever settlement might be worked out will likely require Congressional approval.

With the Republican Congress already well financed by tobacco companies, Mr. Gingrich is now literally indentured to one of the tobacco companies' lawyers, the former Republican Presidential candidate.

EDWARD A. SLAVIN JR.

Deerfield Beach, Fla., April 18, 1997

A version of this article appears in print on April 21, 1997, Section A, Page 14 of the National edition with the headline: Indentured to Tobacco



\


"I hate shallowness" -- Whither our Incredible Shrinking St. Augustine Record? (By Ed Slavin, December 5, 2021)


"I hate shallowness." -- the late Hal Holbrook, as Washington Post confidential source Mark Felt, FBI Associate Director, in the movie, "All the President's Men." 


"I hate shallowness" -- Whither our Incredible Shrinking St. Augustine Record

Does everything that GANNETT touches turn to spit?

In the movie, All The President's Men, an FBI source played by Hal Holbrook meets young Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in a parking garage at 3 AM, setting him right on political crimes, stating with exasperation, "I hate shallowness."

Me too.   

Mr. Woodward is celebrating his 50th anniversary with The Washington Post December 7th, and few sentient critters would accuse him of shallowness today,

Other newspapers are in a slough of mediocrity, mendacity.  It is "the race to the bottom," as Justice Louis Brandeis would have called it

As a longtime, 22 year resident of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Record reader, and as a former local newspaper editor in East Tennessee, I hate the shallowness of the St. Augustine Record.  

I am appalled at the Record's historic willingness to coverup for local crooks and schnooks, including segregationists and their succcessors. 

I am disgusted by what three (3) reckless feckless corporations have done to our on once-local newspaper since I moved here in 1999. 

MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS was run by right-wing profligate Georgia good-ole-boys, who used corporate jets to fly to Monaco, where they owned the only English newspaper.  

MORRIS sued and lost a meritless federal court antitrust lawsuit over "real-time golf scores" (20 minutes or less after a round) against the PGA Tour, Inc, in an effort to obtain "real time golf scores" for free.  

While their Times-Union newspaper would sue over records requests, MORRIS never did,  The St. Augustine Record was undercapitalized, but at least it covered local issues.   MORRIS sought to inform Record readers, with reporters once writing detailed stories on campaign finance, and reporting on Sunshine violations.  

MORRIS filed for bankruptcy and were relieved of $300,000,000 in debt, while a federal court refused to hear readers' pleas the investigative reporting be emphasized, or the newspaper would go broke without readers.  

Then the Record got dumbed down,  MORRIS hired maladroit Kathy Nelson as "Director of Audience/Editor" -- she insipidly put down The New York Times investigative efforts on the Michelle O'Connel homicide. 

She was fired.  

Under MORRIS, there was a heavy hand on cartoonists, firing Ed Hall for a cartoon critical of Florida school suerintndents cutting art, music and athletics.  

On the other hand, letter-writers and guest columnists were encouraged and cultivated.  Now they're absent, left out by the money-hungry Wall Street hedge fund that is now calling the shots for the Record and hundreds of other once-local newspapers.. 

GATEHOUSE bought the Record and other properties from MORRIS, firing experienced editors and writers.  

The Sunday Opinion page was cut from two pages to one.  

Then GATEHOUSE and GANNETT united, one mediocre mess, with hundreds of newspapers, going massively into debt. 

Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll was once on GANNETT's board, but quit. Wonder why?

GANNETT mismanagement has stripped the paper of news and opinion.   Founded by conservative Dull Republican Frank Gannett, who died the year I was born, in 1957, GANNETT was anti-Roosevelt, anti-labor and anti-New Deal.  

Frank Gannett was a vile hater, a vicious labor baiter, the man who said the New Deal was "Fascism, Nazism of Communism  It all amounts to the same thing."  


Much that is mediocre about the newspaper business has flowed from this right-wing, anti-union businessman's vision -- Chain Gang Journalism, as we called it on July 4, 1981, in the Prospectus of The Appalachian Observer, inter alia promising our readers what we would uncover (and did, for the next 26 months, until I left for law school at Memphis State).

GANNETT's St. Augustine Record is especially thin this morning. 

This morning's pitiful paper is the first in a week with an opinion page, featuring no names on the masthead, an absentee AWOL editor from Daytona, whose day job is editing the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Today the only editorial is a cut-and-paste Daytona Beach News Journal editorial on a Daytona Beach development project.  

As fascinating as we might find development projects in Daytona Beach, GANNETT has let us down, playing cookie-cutter cost-cutting cut and paste from other papers with its page makeup and layout, and playing fast and loose with its readers, raising prices for less news.

The Record has long been guilty of biased coverage, or no coverage of dodgy devious developer projects in St. Johns County, as when DAVID BARTON CORNEAL was allowed to buy, close and demolish one of the buildings in the Florida government-funded Dow Museum of Historic Homes, turning it into a hotel for the wealthy, now called "The Collector."
See my August 2015 column, "Perfectly Vapid Editorial in This Morning's Record on Dodgy Developer DAVID BARTON CORNEAL's Demand to Turn Dow Museum of Historic Homes into $500/Night Hotel in St. Augustine's Most Protected, Most Historic Neighborhood (Old City South, HP-1)"

My late journalistic mentor Nat Caldwell with the Nashville Tennessean ruefully predicted that GANNETT would be the end of the Tennessean as we knew and loved it.  Nat was a courageous Pulitzer Prize winner who exposed antitrust violations by large coal companies and the United Mine Workers of America. Nat helped guide Tennessean Publisher John Seigenthaler, Tennessean cub reporters like Albert Gore, Jr. and other younger journalists, including me, a freelancer investigating TVA and coal monopolies.   

I grew up reading a GANNETT newspaper, the Camden Courier-Post, one of the first 20 newspapers in the GANNETT chain, acquired in 1959.  Growing up, our family read The New York Times, Philadelphia Bulletin, Philadelphia Inquirer, Gloucester County Times and Courier-Post  In the 1960s and 1970s, we saw first-hand GANNETT's inept coverage, if there was any coverage at all, of local issues.   My mom called GANNETT's Courier-Post a "dumb paper." She was right. 

Years later, GANNETT started USA Today, a/k/a "McPaper," whose Chain Gang Journalism managers wanted shallow 15 inch stories on national issues.  USA Today perfected the pretty papers without substance that typify the genre of GANNETT;s shrieking shallowness.  Its newspaper vending machines were designed to look like television sets.  Believe It or Not!

GANNETT was founded by Dull Republican extremist Frank Gannett, an anti-New Deal, anti-labor, corporate propagandist.  

Seemingly, stupidity and cupidity are in GANNETT's corporate DNA.

GANNETT's successive mergers and and acquisitions have left the Wall Street Oligarchy of Cosmic Blunderers in charge of much of the news business in America.  

This is a sham and a shame.

Once-great newspapers like the Tennessean, and once-local newspapers like the Record have been turned into boring fungible mucked up messes. 

The amount of news, even on their websites, has been greatly reduced. 

Gary Hart said, "You won't get the government off your backs unless you get your hands out of its pockets."

The Senate is considering House-passed legislation in the reconciliation bill, which would help encourage local journalism with tax credits for newspaper advertisers and subscribers, and newspapers, too,

The bill is called the "Local Journalism Sustainability Act."

One provision would give newspapers a refundable tax credit of $25,000 for every local journalist they employ.  The credit would not apply to large newspapers like The New York Times, but somehow would apply to debt-ridden GANNETT and its mediocre properties. .

Does oligopolistic GANNETT -- owner of 250 daily newspapers and 300 weekly newspapers -- expect federal income tax credits for "local journalism," as is currently pending before Congress?  

If so, you're going to have to show me: Cui bono?  (Who benefits?). 

Or as Gary Hart would ask his staff to ask, "Is the legislation based on need, or greed?"

Should the legislation require divestiture of oligopolistic GANNETT newspaper properties like the two dozen properties in Florida, in order to restore competition, coverage and competence? GANNETT should be sued for antitrust violations?  

You tell me.

The Berkshire Eagle is now a locally-owned newspaper again, purchased by a group of local investors. When locals control their newspapers, local issues get covered.  It's that simple.  

The Tampa Bay Times is now run by a non-profit.  That's a neat idea.

When our Appalachian Observer investigated and publicized massive Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant pollution, it was because the publisher and owner, County Commissioner Ernest F. Phillips, was a local whose family had been in East Tennessee for some seven generations.   We cared about our county.

Chain Gang Journalism newspapers were not going to cover the issue.  

Only after the AO got the mercury pollution declassified, and only after my environmental and nuclear whistleblower clients organized, did GANNETT's Tennessean newspaper investigate the ripple of sickness and death flowing from those "dark Satanic mills," as poet William Blake would have called them. On that occasion, GANNETT earned a Pulitzer, but never got it, screwed, blued and tattoed by the Columbia University School of Journalism Pulitzer Prize Committee (after the Oak Ridge Oligarchy of Atomic Blunderers bragged of exercising their influence and affluence, through Lockheed Martin and other criminaloid corporate polluters and retaliators).

We here in St. Augustine demand a local newspaper that will cover local issues without fear or favor. If GANNETT won't do it, please sell the Record to locals who love our town.

We once had a local newspaper here.  May we have it back, please?

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln -- dealing with maladroit Civil War General George McClellan, a/k/a "Little Napoleon" -- once said, "If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it for a time."




Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,


The Union Wave Hitting America’s Biggest Newspaper Chain. (By Jack Crosbie, Discourse Blog)

Columbia Journalism School graduate Jack Crosbie's blog covers the union wave at GANNETT: 


LABOR
FREE

The Union Wave Hitting America’s Biggest Newspaper Chain

'It’s not that we’re breaking new ground here, we’re just catching up with the rest of the industry.'

The Asbury Park Press, a Gannett newspaper. (Inc magazine is not part of Gannett.)
Mark Skrobola

In 1923, Frank Gannett, a newspaperman from Rochester, New York, founded Gannet Company, Inc, as an offshoot of his first business, the Elmira Gazette. In a handful of years, Gannett spread far past Elmira, pursuing a strategy of buying up smaller local independent papers and consolidating them into a chain; he earned the moniker “the Great Hyphenator” for his practice of merging two papers into one. (He was also virulently conservative, at one point saying that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policies“might be called Fascism, Nazism, or Communism. It all amounts to the same thing.”) By the time of his death in 1957, he owned some 22 daily newspapers, alongside four radio stations and two TV stations.

Today, after a series of mergers, Gannett is the largest newspaper chain in America. It owns over 250 daily papers and more than 300 weekly ones, which it has largely acquired by pursuing the exact same strategy: buy up papers en masse, consolidate them, and hack off everything else but the bare bones. One of the only obstacles to this policy, which Gannett has doubled down on whenever markets and revenues dip, is organized labor. 

“I noticed very quickly when I started, people treated the “U” word like cancer,” Mike Davis, a reporter at the Asbury Park Press, a Gannett local in New Jersey, told Discourse Blog. “If there were three people gathering around someone’s desk, we used to joke — ‘gotta scatter, in case they think it’s a union meeting!'”

During the pandemic, of course, there were no desks to gather around. And so, from the privacy of their homes, Gannett employees across the northeast started to unionize. In the past year, employees at the Bergen Record, the NJ Herald, and the Daily Record unionized. They were followed by the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News and the Home News Tribune, and then the Journal NewsPoughkeepsie Journal, and TimesHerald-Record. All of these papers joined the News Guild, forming three different local shops: the Record Guild, APP-MCJ Guild, and Hudson Valley Guild. The publications have effectively turned Gannett’s strategy against them, organizing as consolidated units with far more leverage than the independent publications they work for. 

They were confronted, almost immediately, by a wave of resistance by their parent company. Gannett’s anti-union strategy is almost identical to the one Discourse Blog has covered in the past. The first move, when the Record Guild announced, was an attempt to slash the size of the unit, excluding the 21 web producers who maintain all of the Gannett websites across five states on the Eastern seaboard from joining any of the publication-specific unions. In response, the producers organized on their own, forming the Atlantic Digital Optimization Team Guild, or Atlantic DOT Guild. Gannett has yet to voluntarily recognize any of the new units despite supermajority-level support in each case, instead pushing them toward National Labor Relations Board elections. 

When reached for comment about Gannett’s resistance to organizing, a spokesperson forwarded a statement by Michael Kilian, the New York State regional editor for the company, which was originally sent as a letter to a group of New York state senators who called for Gannett to recognize the Hudson Valley unit on August 2. Kilian’s statement followed the familiar corporate stalling playbook to a tee, saying, “the election period allows employees the time and space to research, ask questions and determine whether they believe union representation is the right decision for them. We respect the right of our employees to make a fully informed choice.”

This strategy, of course, allows Gannett to delay as much as possible, further pushing back the date when it will have to actually grant its unionized employees a collective bargaining agreement and giving it more time to try and pressure its workers to vote down the union in an election.

Gannett employees’ reasons for organizing also aren’t new. 

“We’d been hearing horror stories for years,” Davis said. “The mass layoffs, people being forced to re-apply for their jobs, people getting laid off on vacation — all this behavior comes from a company that doesn’t care about its people. I don’t know the last time someone retired from one of our papers voluntarily.” 

Every person I spoke to for this piece had their own versions of these stories. A pregnant colleague laid off during the pandemic. A 30-year employee forced to take a buyout because he didn’t respond to an email that he missed in his inbox. In 2008, during a particularly brutal layoff cycle where reporters were made to go upstairs and re-apply for their own jobs, Journal-News veteran reporter Peter Kramer remembered making a video set to Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” highlighting his work (he kept his job).

“Gannett has learned to do things more quietly now,” Kramer said. “One or two layoffs at a time. We’re basically told to shut up and be grateful we have a job.” 

In April, the News Guild published a study of 14 unionized Gannett newsrooms, finding that the company had a pattern of wide pay disparities on gender and racial lines, and reinforcing the company’s own data that many of its newsrooms were demographically whiter than the communities they covered. But it also found that these divisions narrowed the longer a newsroom had been unionized, particularly among those that had ratified a CBA with management, as opposed to those still in bargaining for their first contract. 

This data has perhaps handed Gannett a somewhat novel cudgel in their war on the union. In the Hudson Valley Unit, Kramer said that management started to pressure employees with pointed references to “seniority protection” that could go by the wayside if new diversity requirements were adopted in a CBA.

“Pitting older, whiter, seasoned veterans against the ideal [of a more diverse newsroom] that we’re all fighting for is disingenuous,” Kramer said. “It plays on our worst fear. Nobody wants to lose their job.”

“The company could diversify our newsrooms while keeping senior staff, filling long-vacant positions with journalists who reflect our diverse communities,” Kramer added in a follow-up message. “Instead, they chose, in mandatory meetings, to frame it in a way that suggests it’s either/ or. It’s not.”

Kramer said that he and his peers were quick to reassure younger members of the unit that they weren’t going to be swayed. And while that tactic was a surprise, the News Guild has largely been prepared from day one: management in general is running out of tricks. When the Bergen Record first went public, staff photographer Danielle Parhizkaran told Discourse Blog that it only took 10 or 15 minutes of management’s first scripted captive audience meeting for someone to hit bingo on the News Guild’s anti-union talking point bingo card. Jackson Lewis, the notoriously anti-union law firm retained by Gannett to fight unions, even has a 2019 brochure for a “Counter Organizing Simulation” online, headlined “Remaining UNION FREE.”

The brochure advertises a seminar that does everything we’ve covered here and elsewhere. It will teach a company to “strategically align job classifications to argue for the most appropriate bargaining unit for the company,” (cut down the unit), “best practices when responding to unfair labor practices before the [NLRB] (beating the rap on ULPs), and even “Address employees’ social media use… to broadcast messages in support of a union using your organization’s own computers,” (don’t do union stuff on company tech). The end result is a process that takes as much time, and as much hassle, as is humanly possible. Even that delay is something Gannett tries to use, as Kramer said that management has also pushed the line that unions can’t deliver what they promise, citing the long waiting period between unionizing and ratification of a first contract. (“Basically, ‘look how good we are at dragging our feet,'” he said.) 

But what no amount of stalling will prevent is that the unions are here. They’re public. And their growth in the Northeast region directly affects what Davis called Gannett’s “cash cow.” 

“Frankly, it’s about time,” Davis told me. “It’s not that we’re breaking new ground here, we’re just catching up with the rest of the industry. [This region] is a really crucial place for Gannett’s business model. That’s how you get the company to pay attention, finally, after all this time.”