Tronc That! Los Angeles Times Journalists Vote To Unionize

Los Angeles Times Building

In a first for the 136-year-old Los Angeles Times, editorial workers have voted to join a union.

The overwhelming vote of 248-44 was certified today by the National Labor Relations Board. Voting began earlier this month. The employees will be represented by the Washington-based NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.

The vote comes during an especially turbulent period for the newspaper, whose owner re-branded from Tribune to Tronc in 2016 and installed Ross Levinsohn as publisher and Lewis D’Vorkin as editor. Both have talked of sweeping operational changes as the paper, like all print outlets, battles to stay ahead of seismic changes in consumer habit and the advertising business.

Tronc’s stewardship has unsettled the newsroom, especially given D’Vorkin’s stint heading Forbes, which has relied on editorial posts from brands and other contributors with a bias in a bid to drive online traffic.

Levinsohn has been placed under investigation this week by the company after an explosive report by NPR detailed a long pattern of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct in several workplaces over many years.

“We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward,” said Marisa Kollias, a spokeswoman for Tronc, in a statement to the newspaper. “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.”

Guild organizer Kristina Bui, a copy editor at the Times, said, “This was a long time coming, and we’re all thrilled that this has finally happened. The newsroom has put up with so much disruption and mismanagement, and this vote just underscores how much of a say we need to have in the decision-making process. The newsroom is demanding a seat at the bargaining table.”

While the Times has diminished as a national force in recent years, it remains an important regional outlet for Hollywood. The long-complicated relationship between company and company town was highlighted by Disney’s ban of Times journalists last fall in the wake of an investigative series about Disneyland and its close ties with the city of Anaheim.

The Times, controlled for decades by the Chandler family before a sale to Times-Mirror, has long had a reputation for adamantly resisting union activity. That stance can largely be traced to the 1910 bombing of the newspaper’s downtown headquarters, which was blamed on union activists. The massive explosion caused a fire that destroyed the building and killed 20 Times employees.

News of the vote’s outcome rippled across social media. Matthew Pearce, a national correspondent for the newspaper who led the unionization drive, shared frequent updates of the vote count as well as a newsroom photo after the tally was announced.

Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

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