Okay, before we get to the INCREDIBLY STUPID executive bonuses part of the story, first things first:
The LA Times Pressroom employees are holding what they are calling a Rally for Workplace Justice at 11 a.m. today, Monday, February 23, in front of the Los Angeles Times building at First and Spring Streets, downtown.
It seems that the Times’ pressroom folks have been working to unionize for almost three years and have finally ratified a contract this past December.
This rally, they say, was organized to call attention to “… flagrant anti-union tactics that management has used against us…”
In response to us exercising our federally protected rights to organize our pressrooms, management has retaliated by intimidating, unjustly disciplining and spying on union members; demoting union members for supporting the union; and, threatening to lay off 63 full-time pressroom employees, thus potentially creating an unsafe and demoralized work environment.
Our union lawyers have recently filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board requesting that it prosecute the company for using these tactics against the hard-working men and women of our pressrooms.
The press workers release makes it clear that the protest is “not a call for anyone to stop working for, or doing business with, the LA Times.”
But, they said, the “pressroom employees and their families have been through enough!”
Now if the pressworkers were not already extremely unhappy at what they see as management’s deliberate attempt to spike their union, there’s this:
As the LA Times makes plans for yet another round of news room and press room layoffs, Ed Padgett at the Pressmen’s blog notes that the Times’ parent corporation, Sam Zell’s Tribune Company (which, lest we forget, is in the midst of bankruptcy reorganization) has just won the right to….I’ll bet you can guess it…..pay executive performance bonuses!
$8.8 million dollars worth of the things.
(Insert sound of hysterical, maybe even dangerous-sounding laughter.)
So, yeah, if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of First and Spring Streets in downtown LA Monday morning, say at around 11 a.m., show the press folks your support.
They deserve it.
The paper’s new publisher, Eddy Hartenstein, and brought-back-from-obscurity right hand Opinion Editor Jim Newton, have also been busily endorsing the most anti-union, conservative candidates for office ever in the paper’s history: e.g., rightwing pro-NRA/ anti-environmental criminal lawyer Truanich (claiming strangely to be an environmental lawyer) over the Democrat Weiss, and ignoring heavily-endorsed Council District 5 Koretz for an unknown. (There is NO conservative in that race.) I’ve been reading some disturbing stuff and hearing about behind-the-scenes divisions between opinion and city/ California section, etc.
I’m not particularly pro-union in general or against them — it’s all a matter of context — but there seems to be a clear anti-union agenda permeating all levels of the paper right now, which has left people all over town in person and on blogs shaking their figurative heads and opining that the paper has lost all credibility and appearance of impartiality in favor of some strangely-skewed agenda.
This anti-union/ anti-labor position as it tries to cut its staff helps explain what’s behind it.
The effort to unionize is most likely a waste of effort, the Los Angeles Times will go the way of Los Angeles’ football teams and will be missed the same as a pro football team here in L.A.
Unions kill businesses. The papers have enough problems.
Yea the Unions Kill, How about the Banksters and good jobs going overseas. How about 269 million in bonuses to 50 Tribune executives prior to Zell taking over.
Maybe if the paper stuck up for the liitle guy on the street instead of mainstreet, it might gain subscribers.
If you want the real inside scoop, go to the internet.
The hard charging, hard drinking and cigar smoking reporters are not in the Newspapers.
Lets not forget about Mark Willis, the last CEO of Times Mirror before it merged with Tribune. Mark sold off all business that was not media related. Great move, for his brilliant leadership he was given a 100 millioin package after getting in hot water for the Staples incident. He calimed he didn’t know there was wall between Jounalism and business. It ain’t the little guy killing business!!
While I am not a supporter of any union NOR am I against them, I think the writing has been on the wall for several years that ALL newspapers are in trouble due to the internet and the lack of interest by a majority of young eligible readers to want to read the paper.
I think bonuses are bulls**t in these times and think management is considering themselves and not what is best for the employees with these perks.
However… during this time of recession… wouldn’t it be better to lay low and do your job as best you can, then to aggitate the ones who keep you employed. Having an employer who may look for a reason to let people go so they can have a bigger bonus does not help keep food on the table. I am saddened that because the pressroom is “unionized” they talk about how the pressroom people can keep their job, but to heck with their support groups in the other departments. To me this is the black side of the union. The Times family is gone.
Before the union go too far, maybe they should take to their union brothers and sisters who worked at Smirfit Stone in Missouri? The union struck last December over two percent increases. Firms all around them were starting to layoff. In January the company filed for Chapter 11 protection. The other week the announced it will be closing the plant. This is the same union that represent pressworkers at the LA Times. Bad call by the union and some 80 of their members are unemployed.
I am saddened that because the pressroom is Ã¢â‚¬Å“unionizedÃ¢â‚¬Â they talk about how the pressroom people can keep their job, but to heck with their support groups in the other departments. To me this is the black side of the union. The Times family is gone.
We have not forgotten anyone in the Times that does not work in the pressroom. In fact we met several times with our colleagues in editorial in attempts to gain leverage for them as well as our members by creating a stronger union presence in the two key departments of the newspaper.
We suffer along with everyone in these trying times because many of us have worked here for decades and our relationships extend far beyond our pressrooms. Some of us still view each other as family and we won’t let the company take that away along with everything else.
I felt compelled to respond to your comment because it is incorrect and does not accurately describe our new Local or it’s members.
GCC/IBT Local 140-N