On Saturday, outsourced workers from across Ohio gathered in Akron to testify at a field hearing about corporate job outsourcing and union busting co-sponsored by Cleveland Jobs With Justice and the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign with support from CWA and other unions and community groups.
Witnesses included several members of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild/TNG-CWA Local 34001 who were affected by recent layoffs at The Plain Dealer, along with UAW workers from the recently-idled GM assembly plant in Lordstown.
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland recently cut a third of its union-represented reporting staff. In May, the paper’s management plans to outsource editing, design and layout jobs to the New York-based company Advance Local, which was created by Advance Publications (Newhouse Media), the owner of The Plain Dealer. Staff at the nearby Akron Beacon Journal, another publication that NewsGuild-CWA members work for, have also experienced deep cuts in recent years.
John Funk, former energy and utilities reporter at The Plain Dealer, who recently lost his job in a round of layoffs at the paper said, “The entire copy desk next month will be outsourced. Newhouse Newspapers threw us out of the newsroom and put us in the back with card tables, then threw us out completely.”
Janet Cho, who was laid off from The Plain Dealer along with one-third of the reporting staff in early April after 20 years at the paper, said, “At the time [I was hired], we had more than 400 people in the newsroom, it was just growing and bustling.” She described how those who endured the shrinking newsroom over the years took on more and more responsibilities as their colleagues left.
Grant Segall, who has worked at The Plain Dealer for 34 years, said, “It’s not just about us and our jobs, it’s also about the communities and the readers. It’s about holding public officials’ feet to the fire, and writing about what it’s like to be a union worker so everyone else knows what it’s all about.”
Ron Gay, a staff member from District 4, presented testimony on how CWA members and their communities have been affected by AT&T slashing jobs and shuttering call centers in Ohio and around the country. Nationwide, AT&T has eliminated over 12,000 jobs since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed, despite making promises about jobs investments and receiving a $21 billion tax cut.