First Newsroom Union Walkout Planned – The Hollywood Reporter contentnexus4u

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In response to “significant” planned layoffs, unionized staffers at the Los Angeles Times are launching a one-day strike on Friday.

The walkout — which the Los Angeles Times Guild is calling the first newsroom union strike in the paper’s history — is taking place in response to layoffs that management announced on Thursday as a means of reducing the paper’s 2024 budget. Staff members nationwide will be participating, the union said. The Times Guild represents around 400 editorial employees of the paper, including reporters, photographers and editors.

Timed to the walkout, the union will be holding a “Rally to Save Local Journalism” in downtown Los Angeles at the Gloria Molina Grand Park on Friday at noon. “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,” the Times Guild, which is affiliated with the Media Guild of the West, said in a statement about the strike. “This will greatly damage our ability to provide the accountability journalism so important to Southern California.”

The union can call a strike because it has been working under an expired contract for months, which it is currently negotiating with the paper’s management. In a comment, a Los Angeles Times spokesperson said, “The Los Angeles Times has not missed a day of publishing in 142 years and we will be publishing tomorrow. We are disappointed in the Guild’s decision, but respect their right to strike.”

The Times‘ union first alerted members that cuts would be imminent in an email on Wednesday. “The Bargaining Committee is not allowed to say how many Guild members the company wants to lay off. But folks: This is the Big One,” Media Guild of the West president and Times reporter Matt Pearce wrote in an email to members that day. Times management then informed the newsroom of the planned layoffs on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times said in a statement to the Times on Thursday that the planned cuts are the result of a need “to reduce our operating budget going into this year.” The spokesperson added, “The hardest decisions to make are those that impact our employees, and we do not come to any such decisions lightly. We are continuing to review the revenue projections for this year and taking a very careful look at expenses and what our organization can support.”

The cuts arrive a little over a week after Times executive editor and journalism veteran Kevin Merida announced he was leaving the paper after “considerable soul-searching” and discussions with the newspaper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The union said in its statement on Thursday that its current demands of management include disclosing the number of staffers the paper wants to lay off, or the salary number it is seeking to reduce. The union also wants its interim leaders to hold a town hall and explain their plan for how the paper will increase revenue and wants union representatives to be involved in the search for a new executive editor.

“We built a union to safeguard the future of the Los Angeles Times and its journalists and that mission hasn’t changed,” The NewsGuild-CWA international president Jon Schleuss, who previously worked at the Times, said in a statement. “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.”

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