Florida is losing some of its newspaper delivery workers as part of a state-led effort to revive the industry.
The Florida Newspaper Delivery Association said it has lost about 100 of its unionized employees in the past six months as the state’s workforce shrank by nearly 14,000.
The industry has been on the decline in recent years and is expected to contract by more than a quarter this year.
The union has about 7,600 workers in its Florida chapter and more than 6,300 in its nationwide chapter, said the association’s president, Mark Miller.
Many of the unionized workers are part of the Florida Newspaper Club, a group of newspapers that has worked to organize local newsroom workers.
The national association of newspaper delivery employees has more than 20,000 members.
The national union said the Florida union had more than 2,500 members.
The loss of unionized drivers is a blow to Florida’s ability to attract new, talented workers.
The state has relied on newspaper delivery to make money in recent decades, and that has contributed to its economic health.
The paper delivery business has also helped to revitalize the state, with new companies opening and other industries moving in.
The economy is recovering, and tourism is on the rise, Miller said.
“Our newspaper industry has played a very important role in creating a diversified economy in the state of Fla.,” he said.
Florida newspapers still make up about 7% of the state economy, but the national union is hoping to attract more workers with a program that pays $1,000 bonuses to all new and former unionized paper delivery workers.
Miller said the union was in talks with several companies, including the Florida Press Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, but that negotiations were not moving forward.
He said the state is also trying to recruit new workers with an internship program that was started in January and is recruiting more workers than it was last year.
He said the program could be expanded to include other industries as well.
“It’s a very exciting time,” he said, but he said there were still “challenges.”
The Florida Chamber has worked with the state to promote the internship program, which was started by the state and funded by the Florida League of Conservation Voters.