As a Monday deadline looms for bids to be submitted to buy the Chicago Sun-Times, a group that includes several labor organizations interested in placing an offer shared details of their vision for the newspaper.
Should the group take ownership, reporters at the Sun-Times would maintain the freedom to investigate and report on labor unions, said Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, which is part of the potential bidding group.
“Labor being involved in this doesn’t mean it expects the Sun-Times ever giving it a pass, just like we wouldn’t expect the Sun-Times or Tribune ever giving its corporate investors a pass,” Reiter said Thursday afternoon.
The CFL is an umbrella group that represents more than 300 labor unions in Cook County with a collective membership of more than 500,000.
“We’re putting together a proposal that includes a significant amount of money to keep the Sun-Times operating and hopefully expand it,” he said, declining to go into specifics.
Reiter couldn’t say with absolute certainty that the group would make an offer.
“If we do this . . . we’d have a long-term strategy,” said Reiter on the group’s intention to keep the paper around for years to come.
“We need a two-newspaper town, and to have the Sun-Times viewed again as the working-class Chicago newspaper — the counterbalance to the Tribune.”
The group consists of three or four labor organizations that Reiter would not name; businessman and former Chicago Ald. Edwin Eisendrath, and about eight wealthy individuals whose identities Reiter also would not reveal.
The group would be competing against Tronc, the company that owns the Chicago Tribune and several other papers around the country. A spokesman for Tronc declined to comment.
The Sun-Times, as well as the Reader alternative weekly, are owned by Wrapports LLC, which announced its intent to sell the company’s media properties last month. At that time, both Tronc and Wrapports said Tronc — short for Tribune Online Content — had submitted a letter of intent to buy the Sun-Times, Reader and Wrapports’ other media assets.
The labor group also is interested in buying the Reader, Reiter said.
The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is overseeing the sale.
Traditionally, the federal government has frowned upon a single entity controlling multiple media operations in the same market — concerns that both Tronc and Wrapports have tried to ease by saying the Tribune and Sun-Times would continue to operate as separate, independent voices should a deal go through.