For the first time in the paper’s 136-year history, newsroom employees at the Los Angeles Times will be represented by a union. By a vote of 245-44, employees voted overwhelmingly to join the newly-established L.A. Times Guild.
“We’ve long been a proud voice for our readers. Finally, we can be a proud voice for ourselves,” the L.A. Times Guild said in an email sent to members and subsequently posted on Twitter. “Anyone familiar with the history The Times — and of Los Angeles itself — knows the significance of what we just accomplished.”
“We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward,” L.A. Times parent company Tronc Inc. said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “We remain committed to ensuring that the Los Angeles Times is a leading source for news and information and to producing the award-winning journalism our readers rely on.”
The union victory was certified Friday morning by the National Labor Relations Board following a hand count of ballots during an open hearing held in downtown Los Angeles. Following the announcement, the guild and several Los Angeles Times reporters celebrated the win on Twitter.
The final vote count for the @latguild: 248 in favor, 44 against. A landslide victory, and a historic day for the Los Angeles Times newsroom. ????✊
— L.A. Times Guild ???? (@latguild) January 19, 2018
Here we are, when they told us we won
— Natalie Kitroeff (@Nataliekitro) January 19, 2018
???? THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS A UNION ???? https://t.co/kaaCtxLpRJ
— Matt Pearce ???? (@mattdpearce) January 19, 2018
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) January 19, 2018
The original unionization vote was held on Jan. 4. amid increasingly strained relations between the newsroom and management. A month before the vote, an internal conflict over how editors responded to Disney’s attempted blacklist of movie critics in retaliation for critical business reporting became public, when staffers leaked audio from an all-hands meeting. Several weeks later, audio from another all-hands meeting, in which LAT editor-in-chief Lewis D’Vorkin chewed out staff over the leak, was itself leaked.
Another contentious issue is executive compensation, such as the $15 million in consulting contracts the chairman of the company that owns LAT gave himself in December.
The confirmation of a union victory comes as Tronc announced it was launching an investigation into the paper’s CEO and publisher, Ross Levinsohn, after NPR reported that he had admitted under oath to ranking the looks of female colleagues and discussing whether a colleague worked as a stripper, among other incidents. He has not been suspended, however.
NPR said Levinsohn did not respond on the record to detailed questions. In a telephone call Wednesday with NPR’s CEO, Jarl Mohn, Levinsohn called the accusations “lies” and said he would retain a lawyer if he felt NPR had disparaged him, NPR reported.