Press release from the L.A. Times Guild:
Los Angeles Times Guild plans one-day, multi-city walkout to fight massive job cuts
Job action will be first newsroom union work stoppage in Times history
What: Rally To Save Local Journalism
When: Friday, Jan. 19, at NOON PST/3PM EST
In Los Angeles: On the southwest side of Gloria Molina Grand Park (200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012) near L.A. City Hall
In Washington, D.C.: Downtown (1100 Vermont Ave NW)
The management of the Los Angeles Times has announced that it intends to imminently lay off a significant number of journalists, and is asking the Guild to gut seniority protections in our union contract so they have vastly more freedom to pick whom to lay off. This will greatly damage our ability to provide the accountability journalism so important to Southern California.
In response, the Guild will hold a one-day, multi-city walkout on Friday to Save Local Journalism. It will be held on the southwest side of Gloria Molina Grand Park (200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012) near L.A. City Hall. We invite other media and supporters to attend.
Staff will also be participating in Sacramento, Washington and elsewhere; and will be abstaining from work for the day. This is the first newsroom union work stoppage in the history of the Los Angeles Times, which began printing in 1881.
“The changes to our contract that management is trying to pressure us into accepting are obscene and unsustainable,” said Brian Contreras, chair of the Guild’s Unit Council. “If this newsroom will ever be a place where reporters can have a reliable, steady job and put down roots in Los Angeles, that will only happen through the preservation of our seniority protections. And if management thinks our financial situation is untenable, they need to come to the bargaining table in good faith and work out a buyout plan with us that would first articulate a clear headcount or cost saving they’re aiming for, and then seek to hit that number with as many buyouts — and as few layoffs — as possible.”
Because management has insisted on negotiating in meetings that are off the record, the union cannot say how many of its members the company wants to lay off. But it is a substantial number in a year in which journalism will play a critical role in the future of democracy.
Times management has asked the Guild to make an impossible decision. If we agree to their request, they could lay off almost any of our members. It is union-busting at its core and presents a false choice for preserving diversity within our ranks.
The Guild is pushing for less destructive cost-cutting measures. The three demands the Guild has made of Los Angeles Times management are:
- GIVE US A NUMBER: We want management to publicly articulate a clear headcount or salary reduction they’re aiming for, then offer the enhanced buyouts package outlined in our contract — up to 52 weeks pay — to all Guild members over a seven-day period, with no cap on the number of people who can be given one. We then want all such buyouts to be credited against the layoff total. We reject all seniority carve outs.
- TELL US WHO IS MAKING DECISIONS: We want our new interim executive editors (in place following the abrupt departure of executive editor Kevin Merida last week) as well as President and COO Chris Argentieri to hold an all-hands town hall and articulate a clear road map for revenue growth and not just cost reductions.
- MORE GUILD INPUT: We want ownership to convene a search and selection committee for the next executive editor which includes multiple Guild representatives.
“We built a union to safeguard the future of the Los Angeles Times and its journalists and that mission hasn’t changed,” said Jon Schleuss, international president of The NewsGuild-CWA and former journalist at the Times. “The owner can do the right thing by working with journalists to find a solution that’s both humane and does the right thing for an international community that depends on L.A. Times reporting.”
Our owner, Dr. Soon-Shiong, and Times management can pursue other strategies to avoid layoffs and preserve their success in diversifying the newsroom. The Washington Post just accomplished this through buyouts — there is no reason it cannot happen here.
“Management is trying to pit colleagues against colleagues to execute a plan that will be detrimental to the long term success of the L.A. Times and a blow to the free press in the second largest city in America,” said the Guild’s Black Caucus co-chairs Erin B. Logan and Erika D. Smith.
Please reach out to [email protected] with questions.