Comptroller of New York State writes Gannett CEO Mike Reed



September 2, 2022

Mike Reed, Chairman & CEO
Gannett Co., Inc.
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22107-0150

Dear Mr. Reed:

I write as Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), one of the largest pension funds in the United States, which holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of its 1.1 million members, retirees, and beneficiaries. As a shareholder in Gannett Co., Inc., I am writing regarding concerns with Gannett’s labor relations practices.
Over the last year, there have been multiple media reports of concerning labor practices at Gannett, amid news that Gannett employees have considered organizing unions. These reports have included threatened layoffs, employee benefit cuts, unpaid overtime, and internal pay inequity. In addition to negative media coverage of these issues, Gannett is party to several active National Labor Relations Board cases.

Successfully managing human capital and labor relations is critical to Gannett’s ability to create long-term shareholder value. Based upon the Fund’s experience as a long-term investor, we believe that the ability to establish and maintain constructive relationships with employees is essential for developing a sound, sustainable and profitable long-term strategy. Conversely, labor disputes can pose financial, legal, and reputational risks for companies. The Fund has long supported and encouraged portfolio companies to take a position of neutrality in the event there is a legitimate attempt by a labor organization to organize workers.

To assist management in identifying and mitigating these risks and stockholders in understanding their potential effect on stockholder value, I urge Gannett to adopt and publicly disclose a human rights policy that aligns with widely accepted international standards like the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Such policy should also address Gannett’s commitment to respect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in its operations, as reflected in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (“Fundamental Principles”).

Furthermore, I urge Gannett to work toward a more collaborative, productive relationship with its employees that will allow the company to mitigate the reputational and operational risks that could compromise financial performance. I would appreciate hearing from Gannett how it is addressing these risks and working toward more sustainable labor practices throughout its portfolio.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and I look forward to your response.

Thomas P. DiNapoli
State Comptroller