Sun-Times photographers protest layoffs

June 6, 2013 9:47:08 AM PDT
The Chicago Sun-Times media group fired its entire photography staff one week ago and Thursday morning they came together in protest, hoping to get their jobs back.

"They say cut back, we say fight back." That was the chant Thursday morning as fired photographers staged a rally outside the Sun-Times building.

"We want all of our photographers to be hired back, we are tired of this. This community deserves better," said Craig Rosenbaum, executive director, Chicago Newspaper Guild.

The Chicago Newspaper Guild maintains that the layoffs violated labor laws.

"We were told that there wasn't going to be any layoffs of photographers and reporters during the bargaining process, then last Thursday all the photographers are laid off, so it also seems like some sort of union busting thing as well," said photographer Curtis Lehmkuhl.

"They did it illegally," said former Sun-Times staff photographer Scott Stewart. "There was no union representation when they let us go."

Among the 28 staffers laid off was Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John White, who says losing his job has been numbing.

"Everybody is asking for the same thing," he said. "We want to be able to spread our wings and fly, do your thing in life and respect for what you do."

The Sun-Times has said that business is changing rapidly. Audiences are seeking more video content and as a result had to restructure the way multimedia is managed. Chicago labor law expert Peter Andjelkovich says he sees that trend.

"I would think the Sun-Times doesn't like to layoff these particular employees, but I think one of the realities in today's day in the electronics age, the digital age. As we move forward, media especially is going through considerable changes," he said.

The Sun-Times has been training reporters to use their iPhones to take photos. Last week, the company said it is moving forward aggressively with a new multimedia strategy.

Sun-Times managers were not able to be reached for comment.


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