Los Angeles Times

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

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


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