LA Times Goes Union! Gross Harassey Publisher Goes Straight To Hell!
They like representation! They really like representation!
In a victory for pixel-stained wretches at the Los Angeles Times, the National Labor Relations Board announced today that Times workers voted overwhelmingly -- by a 5-to-1 margin -- to unionize, affiliating themselves with the NewsGuild union. The guild is part of the Communications Workers of America, which had been trying to organize the LAT since 2016. It's the first union at the paper in its 136 years, and the vote had been opposed by the paper's owners, the corporation with the singularly ugly name "tronc" (it used to be Tribune Publishing; the name comes from "Tribune online content").
“We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward,” Tronc spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said in an email.
Tronc had fought the union drive with scary warnings about how unions offer only empty promises, as if promises from management are any great shakes. In a January 3 email, the interim editor Jim Kirk and editor in chief Lewis D’Vorkin told employees not to fall for the siren song of the union, because them sireens will tempt you onto the rocks:
[Union] leaders may tell you they can protect against layoffs but they didn’t at the New York Times, Huffington Post, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Only the wise management of tronc, they implied, could be trusted to steer the Times past the Scylla of declining ad revenue and the Charybdis of fading leadership. And then we ran out of Odyssey references.
Among other matters that drove the union drive, employees were cheesed that the LA Times's management had entered a $5 million consulting contract -- per year -- with a company owned by Chairman Michael Ferro, possibly because it was a little too much like something the Trump family would pull. Executives also sold off the Times's historic Art Deco building downtown, and its printing presses, and are now looking for something more modest -- for the reporters, anyway, who would share "communal work tables" while the execs aim to score a helipad and personal nightclub for their own use.
Even before the results of the union vote were in, the guild was feeling its oats, and called Thursday for the resignation of Ross Levinsohn, the paper's fourth publisher since Eddy Hartenstein left in 2014 after a six-year run. Levinsohn was the subject of a jaw-dropping National Public Radio story published yesterday, comparing Levinsohn's behavior toward female employees unfavorably with that of a "frat boy."
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