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Chicago Reader newsroom staffers unanimously ratify one-year contract

The cover of this week's edition of the Chicago Reader. | Chicago Reader website

Unionized editorial employees of the Chicago Reader on Friday unanimously ratified a one-year contract with the investor group that purchased the alternative weekly newspaper along with the Chicago Sun-Times in July.

Reader staff will get a pay increase totaling 8.4 percent on average — a hike that “will begin to correct longstanding pay inequities at the Reader, where salaries bore little relation to a person’s job responsibilities or years of experience,” according to a statement from the Chicago News Guild.

The contract sets minimum annual salaries, ranging from $38,480 for new hires and topping out at $46,816 for those with 20 or more years of service, according to the Guild. It passed 17-0.

“We at the Reader union know how little money there is to go around in publishing, because we’ve been keeping the paper great with progressively diminishing resources for a decade,” Philip Montoro, the Reader’s music editor and head of the Guild bargaining committee, said in the Guild’s announcement of the deal. “We’re grateful to the new ownership for investing in us at all, and we look forward to working together to create the growth that will make it possible for them to keep doing so.”

In July, the Reader and Sun-Times were sold to a partnership led by former Chicago Ald. Edwin Eisendrath and a coalition of labor unions affiliated with the Chicago Federation of Labor.

“Since 1971, the Chicago Reader has been a leader among alternative weeklies,” said Jorge Ramirez, CFL president and chairman of the board of managers overseeing the Reader and Sun-Times. “It is important to the leadership team that we respect and invest in the men and women who make this paper what it is. This contract sets the foundation for us to show our commitment to their work and to allow them to unleash their creative power for years to come.”

Under the contract, Reader staff will be entitled to better terms for retirement and health care if such provisions are secured by Guild members in the Sun-Times editorial department. The Sun-Times’ union contract expires at year’s end.