Here is an object lesson in why workers at the LA Times newsroom voted to unionize. Below is the “story” that appears in the LA Times about this historically significant event, in a time of digital transformation, job displacement, and mismanagement of news sources. The second article below is from the New York Times, and provides extensive coverage of both the background and context of yesterday’s vote by LA Times reporters. No wonder they are making a serious effort to unionize—their own management apparently wouldn’t even let them cover their own important story. Shame on Tronc for this selective editorial heavy-handedness.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times voted Thursday on whether to form a union.
Employees began casting ballots at 10 a.m. at The Times’ offices in downtown Los Angeles and Fountain Valley in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board. Those who work outside those offices were to able vote by mail.
Election results are expected to be announced Jan. 19. If a simple majority votes for the union, nearly 400 journalists would be represented.
A group of more than 40 Times journalists launched efforts last year to have the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America represent employees in collective bargaining.
Organizers are calling for regular raises as well as improved benefits and job protections. The management of The Times had urged employees to vote no, arguing a union would not benefit employees.
From the New York Times:
Newsroom employees at The Los Angeles Times began casting ballots Thursday on whether to form a union, in what they believe is the first time journalists have held a union vote in the newspaper’s 136-year history.
Workers — who are calling for more competitive salaries, equitable pay for women and minorities, more generous benefits and improved working conditions — began voting at 10 a.m. in a first-floor community room at The Times headquarters in downtown Los Angeles and at the company’s offices in Orange County. Those who work remotely or who are on assignment will be able to vote using mail-in ballots.
A tally of the vote is expected to be announced on Jan. 19; forming a union requires a simple majority of votes cast.
The unit would include roughly 380 employees. People familiar with the process said they believed the organizing effort had the votes to join the NewsGuild, which represents 25,000 reporters, editors, photojournalists and other media workers at news organizations across the United States.
The union vote affirms something of a shift at The Times, where a bombing by union organizers in 1910 helped shape a historically anti-union stance. The organizing effort has also exacerbated tensions between newsroom employees and the newspaper’s executives.
Times employees, who have seen repeated management and ownership turmoil over the years, have long expressed skepticism over their top leaders, but a wave of recent changes further strained their relationship.
Over the last several months, Tronc, the Times’s Chicago-based corporate parent, installed a new publisher, Ross Levinsohn, and editor in chief, Lewis D’Vorkin, who has vowed a “digital transformation” that has left some in the newsroom anxious. A dispute between The Times and the Walt Disney Company also raised tensions between the paper’s employees and its new top management, with some employees questioning how Mr. D’Vorkin had handled the paper’s response.
Management typically counters efforts to organize employees, but many in The Times newsroom — especially against the backdrop of already tense relations — said they felt that those in charge have been unduly aggressive in the attempt to thwart the union effort.
Read the complete article here.