This morning the Los Angeles Times Guild declared a historic victory after the newsroom voted for the first time to unionize.
This morning the Los Angeles Times Guild declared a historic victory after the newsroom voted for the first time to unionize. An offensively dishonest and ham-handed union-busting effort by parent company tronc [sic] — which tried to portray the union as a threatening outsider while defending shareholder Michael Ferro’s million-dollar-a-year private jet habit — failed utterly to shake the resolve of Times journalists, who voted 248 to 44 in favor of the union.
That high-pitched whirring noise you’re hearing is Harrison Gray Otis spinning in his grave. Long may he rotate.
Never before in the nearly 140 year history of the paper have its journalists been protected by a union — something of a surprise to those unfamiliar with local history. Los Angeles is thought of as a progressive bastion by folks who assume that the city’s leadership reflects the open-minded and liberal sentiments of your average Angeleno, rather than being dominated by opportunistic shitbirds.
The Los Angeles Times was for most of its history a deeply conservative institution, reflecting the elitist and regressive politics of Otis, who took control of the Times a year after its founding. The paper was Otis’s weapon of choice in a decades-long struggle to completely stamp out the unions in Los Angeles and undermine organized labor throughout the state. The anti-worker ideology that he peddled was so virulent that in 1910 the paper’s offices were the target of a dynamite attack by angry union members. Today’s union win will, one hopes, bury the old right-wing Times once and for all.
The victory is a rare bright spot in a Los Angeles media landscape that has been pretty much rolling from one catastrophe to the next for the past year — and, notably, it’s a victory against the rich slobs who are responsible for those catastrophes. LAist was shuttered at the whim of an anti-labor billionaire; LA Weekly was bought by wealthy Orange County Trumpists and purged of its entire writing staff by decommissioned muppet Brian Calle; Calle’s previous home, hedge-fund-owned Southern California News Group, got rid of 65 newsroom staffers last summer and has announced plans to cut even more.
The crisis in LA media is entirely manmade. We remain an economic and cultural powerhouse, and our need for information continues to grow. Local journalism — a newspaper, an alt-weekly, a local website (hi!) — creates a sense of community and expands the scope of our awareness as part of this big dirty city. We’ll only maintain that if we stand up to the boardroom billionaires who see those institutions as just another row of numbers to loot.
Bravo to the LA Times Guild for bloodying their noses.