Guild membership meeting June 20

Colleagues,

We are holding a general membership meeting at the Embassy Suites LAX South (1440 E. Imperial Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245) at 6:30 p.m. the evening of June 20. The formal agenda will include:

  1. Discussion of our proposed bylaws. Members will have an opportunity to ask questions and propose amendments.

  2. The establishment of an interim election committee to oversee the ratification of our bylaws and, later, the election of officers in our new Local. We will need several volunteers to serve on this committee, who will be selected by the members in attendance at the meeting. To ensure fairness in the process, the election committee cannot include current officers or members of the bylaws committee.

  3. A progress report on our contract negotiations.

We will have a call-in option TBD.

Here are a few highlights from our proposed bylaws:

Transition language: The draft bylaws establish a process to take our union from the interim leadership we’ve had over the past 18 months to a nine-member Executive Committee chosen by the members.

Governance Structure: Under these bylaws, our Local would start its operations with an Executive Committee that has four titled officers (president, vice president, treasurer, secretary) and five at-large members. The Executive Committee would be set up in a way that allows new unions to join our Local (if, say, other newsrooms in Los Angeles were to unionize like we did).

Election timetable: Under the proposal, elections for officers and other matters would be held every two years.

Initiating major changes: Under the proposed bylaws, our Local would need signatures from 25% of its members to force a vote of the membership on a proposal, including any request to amend the bylaws. That threshold was chosen to give our rank-and-file members the power to make changes when necessary, while also ensuring that we’re not rewriting our bylaws every other month.

Public conduct: The draft includes language that would forbid our Local from endorsing candidates for public office. However, it creates a process that would allow the Local to support political measures that affect the Guild’s institutional rights, bargaining responsibilities and working conditions of its members. This policy was designed to minimize our union’s involvement in politics and avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, while recognizing the Local still has a duty to serve as effective advocates for our journalists and other members.

Sincerely,

Anthony Pesce & Carolina A. Miranda

Co-Chairs, Los Angeles Times Guild

An open letter to Los Angeles Times management about its intellectual property proposals

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We, the undersigned journalists of the Los Angeles Times, write to protest a proposed company policy on intellectual property that would mark a new low in the newspaper industry — and potentially limit our staff’s long-standing contributions to literary and creative life in the United States.

The newsroom has been bargaining in good faith with management on a first contract for months. While some disagreements remain, we’re proud to work for a publication that recognizes newsrooms need investment, not cuts, to survive.

But late in negotiations, the company has proposed a draconian policy on books and other creative projects that, as a condition of employment, would go far beyond the work-for-hire standards of U.S. copyright law and the relicensing practices historically allowed by The Times.

If we have a book idea related to our work, even if fictional, the company wants unfettered power to claim control over whether it gets written, who owns the copyright and what we might get paid for it. The company also wants to claim the film rights to such books even if the company grants permission for the book to be written, on unpaid leave, for an outside publisher.

No other newspaper has contract language this strict — not the New York Times, Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. This is especially inappropriate, coming as it does from the Los Angeles Times, which runs the highly popular L.A. Times Festival of Books and has a proud history of employing journalists who have made significant contributions to the literary community.

Michael Connelly, the bestselling author, created the character of LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch while working as a crime reporter for The Times. Columnist Steve Lopez developed “The Soloist,” a close-up account of homelessness in Los Angeles, based on his work as a metro columnist; his book later became a movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Former reporter Sonia Nazario based her critically acclaimed book “Enrique’s Journey” on the Pulitzer Prize-winning series on Central American immigration she wrote for The Times.

If these books didn’t exist, readers everywhere would be poorer for it. But under the company's proposal, these types of projects could fall within its control — and, most disturbingly, within its power to reject wholesale. The Times should encourage its employees to be ambitious, not empower lawyers to squat on copyrights. Moreover, the company's proposal to claim control over any work created by employees "within the scope of their employment" is unworkably vague, especially given the sweeping interpretations that company negotiators gave us at the bargaining table.

This is the age of Netflix, and the company has additionally asserted "rights to use employee names, likenesses, biographical information, etc.,” without requiring any consent from us, for any creative project it chooses to pursue, while obligating us to participate in its development. It’s the sort of thing that smacks of the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s, when studio executives controlled what movies their actors appeared in and with whom. There’s a reason that system came to an end.

We’re worried that such policies would not only drive away talented recruits who might be interested in working for The Times, but it might also perversely incentivize Times journalists to quit in order to develop projects.

As the L.A. Times enters a promising new era for journalism, we fear management’s restrictive proposal will directly harm the reputation of the institution and hinder the production of important creative and journalistic works in a city with a strong history of valuing and compensating writers. The company must change course.

Signed,

Scott Martelle

Barbara Demick

Louis Sahagun

Michael Finnegan

Carolina A. Miranda

Patricia I. Escárcega

Christopher Knight

Bill Plaschke

Matt Pearce

Maria La Ganga

Chris Megerian

Mark Z. Barabak

James Queally

Joe Mozingo

Gerrick Kennedy

Bill Addison

Joel Rubin

Del Quentin Wilber

Bettina Boxall

Steve Lopez

Matt Hamilton

Robin Abcarian

Gustavo Arellano

Christopher Goffard

Brian van der Brug

Harriet Ryan

Alan Zarembo

Martina Ibanez-Baldor

Diana Marcum

Ben Oreskes

George Skelton

Michael Hiltzik

Thomas Curwen

Jeffrey Fleishman

Noah Bierman

Mark Swed

Jenn Harris

Jon Schleuss

Nathan Fenno

Jaweed Kaleem

Ben Brazil

Liam Dillon

Laura J. Nelson

Dakota Smith

Glenn Whipp

Kevin Crust

Paige Hymson

Colleen Shalby

Lauren Raab

Sarah Parvini

Mariel Garza

Jad El Reda

Evan Halper

Blake Hennon

Amy Kaufman

Steve Devol

Laura Newberry

Alexa Díaz

Jen Yamato

Nardine Saad

Andy Nguyen

Eli Stokols

David Willman

Anna Phillips

Denise Florez

Cindy Chang

Paige St. John

Joseph Serna

Jaclyn Cosgrove

Phil Willon

Cindy Carcamo

J. Brady McCollough

Paul Duginski

Luke Money

Christine Mai-Duc

Jessica Gelt

Hannah Fry

Doug Smith

Angel Jennings

Samantha Masunaga

Melanie Mason

Julia Sclafani

August Brown

Jenny Jarvie

Rong-Gong Lin II

Anthony Pesce

Makeda Easter

Alex Wigglesworth

Hugo Martin

Kristina Bui

Javier Panzar

Steve Eames

Robert Lloyd

Angela Jamison

Christopher Reynolds

Lance Pugmire

Sam Dean

Christie D’Zurilla

Jackie Calmes

Jim Puzzanghera

Sara Cardine

Andrew J. Campa

Anthony Clark Carpio

Maloy Moore

Matthew Fleischer

Betty Chavarria

Jessica Martinez

David Wharton

Janet Hook

Noam Levey

Lisa Boone

Brian Park

Carla Hall

Kevin Ueda

Emily Alpert Reyes

Jim Buzinski

Ruben Vives

Priya Krishnakumar

Doyle McManus

Bill Shaikin

Andrew Khouri

Reed Johnson

Melody Gutierrez

Andrew Greif

Lorraine Ali

An Amlotte

Kenneth Turan

Frank Shyong

Hailey Branson-Potts

Elsie Ramos

Maya Lau

Sonali Kohli

Jade Cuevas

Jason Clark

Ryan Faughnder

Judy Pryor

Bakr Muhammad

Deborah Vankin

Jan Molen

Deborah Netburn

Paul Pringle

Matt Cooper

Adam Elmahrek

Adam Tschorn

Carlos Santana

Chris Barton

Margot Roosevelt

Justin Chang

Andrea Castillo

Kim Christensen

David Montero

Alene Tchekmedyian

Vanessa Martínez

Eduardo M. Gonzalez

Faith E. Pinho

Nicole Santa Cruz

Paul Thornton

Josh Rottenberg

Mark Olsen

Gale Holland

Ashley Lee

Roger Vincent

Geoffrey Mohan

Victoria Hernandez

Tracy Brown

Allison Mann

Rubaina Azhar

Dan Santos

Carla Rivera

Mary Forgione

Richard Winton

Chris Erskine

Hamlet Nalbandyan

Raul Roa

Paul Ybarrondo

Jay L. Clendenin

Mark E. Potts

R. Marina Levario

Jazmine Ulloa

Patt Morrison

Anh Do

Kurtis Lee

Jennifer Haberkorn

Charles McNulty

Gerard Lim

Sammy Roth

Jose S. Mancia

Lucas Peterson

Allison Hong

Christina Schoellkopf

Anne Elisabeth Dillon

Rebecca Bryant

David Cloud

Stacy Perman

Marisa Gerber

Mary McNamara

Kirk D. McKoy

Kyle Kim

Daniel Miller

Lorena Elebee

Howard Blume

David Lazarus

Nita Lelyveld

Sarah Wire

Tracy Wilkinson

Molly O’Toole

Priscella Vega

Todd Martens

Mike DiGiovanna

Jeff Amlotte

Phi Do

David Savage

Scott Smeltzer

Dylan Hernandez

Brittny Mejia

Luis Sinco

Randall Roberts

Jessica Roy

Lila Seidman

Fidel Martinez

Danielle Parenteau Decker

Jeanette E. Marantos

Dorany Pineda

Suhauna Hussain

Dennis Brosterhous

Matt Ormseth

Jessica Chen

Meredith Blake

Mikael Wood

Steven Greenberg

Steve Saldivar

John Penner

Soudi Jimenez

Eduard Cauich

Sergio Burstein

Jose Mancia

Selene Rivera

Gerardo Alatriste

Helene Elliott

Jackeline Luna

Soumya Karlamangla

Andrea Roberson

Swetha Kannan

Elena Howe

Russ Mitchell

Alison Dingeldein

Dania Maxwell

Jevon Phillips

Amina Khan

Kelly Corrigan

Melissa Gomez

Sue Worrell

Dave Lewis

Kevin Leung

P.K. Daniel

Sam-Omar Hall

Kelcie Pegher

Jill-Marie Jones

Dan Woike

Jared Servantez

Nancy Rivera Brooks

Dwayne Rogers

Lee Rogers

Sean Greene

Wendy Fawthrop

Claire Hannah Collins

Yvonne Villarreal

Paul Feldman

Efrain Hernandez Jr.

Don Ragland

Dave Bowman

Victor Barajas

Johana Bhuiyan

Jessica Perez

John Scheibe

Ryan Menezes

Leila Miller

Calvin B. Alagot

Scott Wilson

Jerome Adamstein

Vincent Nguyen

Ellis Simani

Jeff Miller

Courtney Lewis

Al Seib

Jorge Castillo

Agnus Dei Farrant

Taryn Luna

Kerry Cavanaugh

Jack Dolan

Wendy Lee

Robert Greene

Jim Brooks

Tim Berger

Michael McGough

Robert Gauthier

Melissa Etehad

Michael A.W. Ottey

Randy Lewis

Richard Marosi

Sonaiya Kelley

Iris Lee

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

Melody Petersen

Matt Stiles

Andrew T. Turner

Hillary Davis

Tony Barboza

Rosanna Xia

David Ng

Victoria Kim

Esmeralda Bermudez

Anita Chabria

Ben Poston

Susanne Rust

Press Release: Los Angeles Times Guild pushes back against management’s proposed intellectual property policy

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 13, 2019) — Journalists at the Los Angeles Times are pushing back against a sweeping company proposal on intellectual property rights that would mark an unprecedented low for the media industry.

The L.A. Times Guild has been bargaining in good faith since June with the company, and though disagreements remain, both sides are eager to reach a deal. Late in negotiations, however, The Times has proposed a disturbing and unusually lengthy policy on books and other creative projects that would go far beyond the standards of U.S. copyright law and relicensing practices historically allowed by The Times.

The company’s proposal would, as a condition of employment at The Times, give management enormous discretion over whether it could control any journalism-related book deals or similar creative work that employees don’t typically perform as part of their day-to-day work for The Times. It would also give The Times the rights to negotiate regarding the use of their employees’ byline, biography and likeness. No other unionized news organization has contract language as all-encompassing as the company’s proposal.

“Los Angeles Times journalists have a proud history of writing books, and now the company wants the power to claim ownership over those books if they are somehow related to journalism we’ve done for The Times,” said Matt Pearce, a national reporter and a vice chair of the L.A. Times Guild. “None of our peers have a clause like this in their contracts. It would be a huge step backward.”

In response to the proposal, Times journalists are calling on the company to change course in an open letter to management. Such a policy, the letter says, poses a threat to the company’s recruitment and retention efforts and would lower standards for intellectual property rights across the journalism industry.

The Los Angeles Times Guild, which represents more than 400 newsroom staffers, continues to negotiate with the company over this and other key issues. The Times is in the midst of an exciting new chapter for journalism under Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s ownership. In this era of revitalization, the union urges the company to find a way to work with its journalists toward a contract that benefits everyone.

Contact: comms-committee@latguild.com

L.A. Times Guild wins strong newsroom diversity protections

L.A. Times Guild co-chair Anthony Pesce and vice chair Kristina Bui sign the tentative agreements on December 20, 2018.

L.A. Times Guild co-chair Anthony Pesce and vice chair Kristina Bui sign the tentative agreements on December 20, 2018.

We are pleased to announce that the L.A. Times Guild and the Los Angeles Times reached a tentative agreement on hiring and diversity language Thursday that incorporates a stronger version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule and would make the L.A. Times a leader in the news industry.

The policy, once ratified, will require Times managers, when possible, to interview at least two candidates who are women or members of traditionally-underrepresented groups — including women, Black, Latino, Asian American, Native and LGBTQ journalists.

The Times has also agreed to form a joint diversity committee with the Guild to address issues of diversity in hiring, recruitment and retention in the newsroom. The committee will have access to anonymized equal-employment opportunity data collected during the hiring process and the power to make reports and recommendations.

As the L.A. Times expands and adds dozens of talented journalists in California and across the country, the Guild wants to make sure the company is talking to all the best candidates for the job. Research has shown that including at least two diverse candidates in a hiring pool “can make the difference and lead to their hiring,” according to the Harvard Business Review. The newsroom union of The Intercept adopted a similar policy earlier this year.

The L.A. Times Guild and the company also reached a tentative agreement on anti-discrimination language that would empower the Guild to file a grievance on behalf of employees with discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims. Employees who don’t want to go through civil litigation could instead choose to resolve such disputes through arbitration.

These policies would be implemented pending the completion of negotiations and the approval of our contract by our newsroom, which will be the first-ever collective-bargaining agreement reached between the Los Angeles Times and its journalists in the 137-year history of the newspaper. Negotiations continue over a variety of issues crucial to our newsroom, and we hope to reach a settlement with the company soon.

New York: Los Angeles is with you

Today the newsroom of New York Magazine announced its intent to form a union. Their newsroom has signed cards and said "yes" to collective representation.

We've learned about the benefits of a union at the Los Angeles Times. After years of cuts, no raises and an uncertain future, we realized it was time for our journalists to step up and take action. Our work is invaluable. We deserve respect and security. And our institutions need it to survive and drive the world forward.

The Los Angeles Times Guild proudly supports our fellow journalists at New York, Vulture, The Cut, Daily Intelligencer, Grub Street and The Strategist.

It is time for journalists to be heard.

Let's turn Metpro back into a program we can be proud of

In his first address to the Los Angeles Times newsroom, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong shared his commitment to fostering diversity in our workplace. 

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A child of Chinese immigrants -- and an immigrant himself -- he said he wanted our ranks to “better reflect the diversity of the communities and audiences we seek to serve.”

By overhauling the Times’ Metpro Program, Soon-Shiong and our executive editor, Norman Pearlstine, can do just that. 

The Times launched Metpro, originally called the Minority Editorial Training Program, 34 years ago as a way to build a pipeline and provide opportunities for journalists of color, many with diverse backgrounds. 
 
But as layoffs and cutbacks have chipped away at the newsroom, so too have they chipped away at Metpro and its original intentions. Graduates of the program who joined The Times as full-time staffers contend with depressed wages and say they feel like second-class journalists.

In response, the L.A. Times Guild’s Equity & Diversity Committee created a report, available here, based on a survey of Metpro graduates from the past 20 years. The Guild received about 50 responses from current and former staff members, who shared their experiences in the program.

Some key recommendations: 

  • The program should be limited to people with a certain amount of experience in a professional newsroom, up to three years. Candidates with master’s degrees would still qualify. Because Metpro has become a way to bring in experienced journalists into the Times newsroom and underpay them, we must reassess who is an ideal candidate to ensure that Metpro is no longer exploitative. 
  • Metpro should be 18 months — and heavily structured. The first four weeks will be training. There will be three rotations, each 16 weeks. At the end of the first year, after a comprehensive evaluation, a Metpro will be placed into the final six months of the program. If the Metpro is a reporter, he or she will be assigned to a specific beat with a specific editor. 
  • Metpros should be given a pay increase, as proposed by the bargaining committee. (Current pay is $850/week, before taxes.) Additionally, Metpros should be provided with a moving stipend. If hired as full-time staff, Metpros should be paid minimum reporter or other salaries as established by bargaining. 
  • A Metpro will receive their first formal evaluation at eight weeks of the first rotation with relevant supervisors and Metpro director.
  • A volunteer panel of former Metpros will form and meet regularly, checking in with current Metpros and hosting events throughout the year to ensure Metpros meet a variety of people in the newsroom. The panel will also help the Metpro director assign mentors. 

To be clear: The Times should continue the Metpro program. It is a program that has brought much talent to The Times.

But Metpro cannot continue in its current form. To become the prestigious job training fellowship it was designed to be, the program requires a significant overhaul – one that will allow the Times to continue hiring and retaining motivated, ambitious journalists who are crucial to the newspaper’s success.

Read the report here. 

Guild’s Equity and Diversity Committee.

Welcome to the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong!

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The Los Angeles Times Guild would like to congratulate Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong on completing his purchase of The Times. After 18 years under chain ownership, The Times is back under local control

We would like to say farewell to our fellow journalists across Tronc. The last few years have been especially hard. We still stand with you.

We look forward to further meetings with Dr. Soon-Shiong to hear his plans going forward. 
We, too, have a message for him: We think it's time for the Los Angeles Times to think big again.

Newspapers are a tough business. But they’re not an impossible business. The New York Times makes more revenue from subscriptions than from advertising. The Washington Post reinvested in its newsroom and won many new loyal readers.

We once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them. And we can again.

Look around. California is the nation's wealthiest, most populous and most dynamic state. It's home to the tech, entertainment and agriculture industries. We are the gateway between America and the Pacific Rim; we serve as the crossroads between Asia and Latin America. It’s no surprise that East Coast media outlets increasingly crave our readers.

We think the American West is ready for the return of its most historically dominant news organization — a bold, ambitious, independent Los Angeles Times that informs its readers and questions the status quo.

It will take work. We suffered mightily under Sam Zell, bankruptcy and Tronc. We lost far too much reporting and editing muscle in layoffs and buyouts. Many talented journalists left on their own, taking new jobs because they went years without raises or because they lost faith in their leaders. 

Others who stayed have been similarly neglected. Dozens of newsroom workers who were hired for temporary positions have now labored alongside us for years as poorly paid contractors. And there are the stark gaps in pay for women and journalists of color — as documented in a recent report by the Guild.

This is why we were the first journalists in the 136-year history of The Times to unionize. We must make repairs. 

You can bring back hope by investing in the newsroom. Give journalists better security, give them a strategy they can believe in, give them independence.

Do that, and this can be a place where top-flight journalists around the country want to work. Do that, and paying readers will follow.

Despite all the storm clouds in this industry — and in this country — optimism is contagious. Doing something that’s never been done before at the Los Angeles Times is not impossible. After all, we would know.

— The Los Angeles Times Guild

Congratulations to Patrick Soon-Shiong

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We would like to congratulate Patrick Soon-Shiong as the new owner of the Los Angeles Times.

Our readers expect and deserve the high-quality, independent journalism that has defined The Times for decades. This is important to Los Angeles, California and the nation.

The L.A. Times Guild looks forward to working with a local owner who can help us preserve The Times as a guardian of our community and as the voice of the American West.

The Los Angeles Times Guild Steering Committee
 

The Los Angeles Times Guild has been certified!

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The National Labor Relations Board certified the results of our 248-44 vote tally today, making it official: The Los Angeles Times newsroom is unionized. As editor-in-chief Jim Kirk said yesterday at the all-hands meeting, "It's what we collectively do that makes this place great." This victory is just one example of that.

A key issue remains unresolved: the status of dozens of journalists the company fought to exclude from the unit and challenged on election day. Tronc is able to drop those challenges at any point, but if it won't, we are ready to fight for the voices of our colleagues. 

We have a lot of work ahead of us to get to the bargaining table. We'll send more information to the membership about that very soon.

Congratulations again on this historic victory.

— The L.A. Times Guild organizing committee

 

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Tronc execs need to come clean about their plans for the LA Times

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Dear Colleagues:

As journalists, we demand transparency from the people we cover. As employees of the Los Angeles Times, we demand the same of the executives who run our company.

This week, various media reports, including a lengthy investigation in the Huffington Post, suggested Tronc is building a media entity called Los Angeles Times Network that is not part of the Los Angeles Times — with editorial hires that report to the business side. 

This raises a morass of journalistic and ethical questions. 

We have grave concerns about this matter and have requested information from Tronc's management team — which they have declined to provide. Why a communications company built on the idea of publishing the truth wouldn't be truthful with its employees is beyond comprehension. But rest assured that our newsroom remains mobilized and powerful and we are covered by legal protections. 

We will make our voices heard. And as we investigate and learn more about these developments, we will report back to you.

As a reminder: We are in a period called "status quo," which means that the company can no longer make unilateral changes to our benefits or working conditions — that includes any attempt to outsource the work that we do. Moreover, if the company tries to grill frontline workers about media leaks or anything else, they have a right to have a union representative during the meeting.

We have rights. You have rights. The Guild is here for you.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns or think your rights have been violated, please reach out to an organizer or get in touch at hello@latguild.com.

The Los Angeles Times Guild organizing committee

Letter to the newsroom regarding Ross Levinsohn's "pyramid" plan

We have serious concerns about the plan’s impact on our newsroom and our journalism, and we’d like to remind Tronc of its obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. Simply put, Tronc is required to give us notice and bargain over changes to our working conditions. That obligation extends to this Forbes-style “Los Angeles Times Network” and its effect on our newsroom.

Los Angeles Times newsroom votes for union

Today we made history.

For the first time since the Los Angeles Times printed its inaugural edition in 1881, our journalists have voted to form a union. The vote was 248 to 44 — 85% YES!

We've long been a proud voice for our readers. Finally, we can be a proud voice for ourselves. Anyone familiar with the history of The Times -- and of Los Angeles itself -- knows the significance of what we've just accomplished.

In the weeks ahead, you'll be hearing about how you can run for leadership positions to represent yourself and your colleagues as we prepare for our contract negotiations with Tronc. We need leaders who are willing to fight tooth and nail for every worker and for every department.

We encourage everyone to get involved, even if you were not a part of the union election campaign. The union we've created belongs to everyone. There is no better time to get involved.

—The L.A. Times Guild Organizing Committee

Not fit to lead the Los Angeles Times

We are appalled by the findings in the NPR story.

Ross Levinsohn should resign or be fired immediately. A man who sexually harasses women, engages in “slut-shaming” and refers to gay men as “fags” is not fit to lead our newspaper.

Tronc and its board of directors must be held accountable for their failure to properly vet Levinsohn for one of the most important positions at the company and in American journalism.

We demand an independent investigation to examine how Levinsohn was hired given his documented history of misconduct; whether he acted inappropriately toward Times employees during his tenure as publisher; and how the company and board have responded previously to allegations of sexual misconduct by newspaper leaders.

-- Members of the Los Angeles Times Guild organizing committee
 

Today we make history

Colleagues, 

Today is a historic day for the Los Angeles Times. It's time to make your mark. This is our closing argument.

For 136 years — through wars, through earthquakes, through riots — this newsroom has never had a union.

Our longtime owners, the Chandlers, prided themselves on keeping out unions by treating their employees well. 

We all know what happened next. The Chandlers left. They were replaced by a series of incompetent owners. Sam Zell drove us into bankruptcy. Management only knew how to do one thing: cut staff and benefits.

We had no way to speak up for ourselves. We had no voice to demand modest raises to keep up with inflation. We had no leverage to stop the company from stripping away our paid time off.

We did not have a union. And we have paid the price.

No longer.

Today’s vote will determine whether we join all of our peers in the industry as a union-represented newsroom. The New York Times. The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal. The Associated Press. Reuters. Dozens of other newspapers around the country.

We know what we want. It's nothing extraordinary. Regular raises to keep up with the cost of inflation. Better parental leave policies. Equal pay and better treatment for women and journalists of color. Just-cause firing protections. Better severance packages. A voice to safeguard our ethical standards and the quality of our journalism.

A fair shake from management.

Tronc has fought our effort by trying to scare us with lies, while trying to pit us against each other.

Tronc has tried to suggest younger workers want to take pay away from older workers. (They don't.)

Tronc has tried to suggest the union is an outside party trying to impose itself on our newsroom. (We approached the NewsGuild, not the other way around.)

Tronc has tried to suggest there isn't enough money for raises for everyone. (Two weeks before this election, Tronc chairman Michael Ferro decided to start paying himself $5 million a year for a "consulting" contract. And compensation for his top executives has ballooned by 80 percent.)

There's a reason Tronc has been trying to scare you out of voting for the union. There's a reason they've been fighting so hard against us.

They want a free hand to give us less and less.

To our supporters, we thank you for your help during all these hard months. It's been a pleasure getting to know all of you and to hear your thoughts on how we can save this proud newsroom. 

To our coworkers who have been on the fence, we hope you've heard our arguments and will decide to join us at the polls.

To some of our colleagues who are opposed to this effort, we want you to know this: No matter what, we will fight for you, every day, tooth and nail. And we hope we can win you over when you see the gains we can make together.

And to Tronc — we'll see you at the bargaining table.

— The Los Angeles Times Guild Organizing Committee

The real story from the L.A. Times pressroom

Below is a statement given to us by longtime Times pressman Cesar Calderon, who responds to the management email featuring his co-worker Lee Carey, an anti-union activist. 

Cesar Calderon

My name is Cesar Calderon, and I’ve been in the L.A. Times pressroom for 34 years. I’m also the president of our local union. I was very amused by what my colleague, Lee Carey, told you in the Tronc video.

Let me set a few things straight. Five times in the past 10 years, Lee has tried to decertify our union with the company’s help. Each time, they failed. All five times, we voted by secret ballot to remain unionized, including last month. What does that tell you?

The union has done a lot for the pressroom. We have a voice. We have a grievance procedure. We have guaranteed vacation pay. We get overtime. We have job protections. We can negotiate all the terms and conditions of our jobs, and we got bonuses for each contract we signed.

I have no doubt that our pay, which is good for our industry, would be much lower without a union. 

Lee used Tronc’s math to try to scare you. The company wanted us to start giving up our vacation pay in exchange for a 401k match. We did the real math and it was easy to see that it would be a bad deal – we would lose time off and money.

And we knew that would probably be the start of what the company would try to take away from us. 

We’ve seen these scare tactics in the past. If you want your voice to be heard, if you want to do better, you need a union.

Good luck on Thursday!