Chicago Tribune staffers announce intent to unionize

The Chicago Tribune Tower, center, on North Michigan Avenue. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Dozens of employees at the Chicago Tribune have announced their intent to form a union, which would be a first in the paper's 170-year history.

An organizing committee - 44 Tribune employees are listed - made the announcement online Wednesday under the banner of the Chicago Tribune Guild, citing a lack of raises, cost-of-living adjustments and job security as reasons for the unionization push.

"Our primary goal in forming a union is to give us, the Tribune's journalists, a voice in setting the course for the publications we hold dear," the organizing committee wrote in a statement on its website. "This includes the Aurora Beacon-News, Daily Southtown, Naperville Sun, Elgin Courier-News, RedEye and Hoy."

The group is asking Tribune staffers to submit signature cards in support of representation by the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America, which also represents unionized employees at publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times.

"For too long, the corporate leadership of the Chicago Tribune and its community publications has devalued and weakened the effectiveness of its newsrooms," the group states on its website. "Through a string of erratic moves, these leaders have demonstrated an apparent lack of regard for journalism and the crucial role that a strong news organization plays in a major city such as Chicago. Poor decision-making at the top deeply affects our ability to cover Chicago, Illinois and the Midwest."

The online announcement included statements from Tribune columnists Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn, written in the format of one of their back-and-forth conversational joint columns, in which they announce their intention to sign on.

"You and I have been lucky. Working at the Tribune has provided us both a lifetime of opportunities and rewards," Schmich wrote.

"But today's Tribune employees can't rely on what our generation took for granted: fair wages, regular raises, the chance to learn, to grow, to advance.

"They - well, all of us now - are also working without the confidence that the newspaper's corporate owners believe in great journalism, are willing to invest in it or share the newsroom's sense of civic responsibility."

Zorn responded: "I put my name on this effort because I believe it's the best way to assure that corporate resources are directed to sustaining this newspaper - excuse me, online content generation company - and advancing its core mission. Pay copy editors, not consultants."

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2018.)
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