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Journalists at L.A. Times, owned by Chicago-based Tronc, vote to unionize

Los Angeles Times journalists began voting on Jan. 4 to decide whether to form a union. | Associated Press photo

Journalists working for the Los Angeles Times have voted to unionize, according to a vote count Friday by the L.A. Times Guild.

The final vote count was 248 in favor and 44 against, according to the tweet by the guild.

Employees at the country’s fourth-largest newspaper had been seeking regular raises, better parental leave policies, equal pay, just-cause firing protections, improved severance packages, as well as a “fair shake from management,” according to a message on the LA Times Guild website.

The 136-year-old LA Times is owned by Chicago-based Tronc Inc., which also owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun among other publications.

Executives for Tronc — whose chairman, Michael Ferro, previously chaired a group that owned the Chicago Sun-Times — have strongly discouraged unionization.

In their call to unionize, the LA Times Guild cited ballooning executive salaries, including a $15 million consulting contract that Tronc approved for one of Ferro’s other firms.

“There’s a reason they’ve been fighting so hard against us,” guild members wrote. “They want a free hand to give us less and less.”

Meanwhile, Tronc investigating allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ross Levinsohn, the newspaper’s CEO and publisher.

The investigation was prompted after a National Public Radio story Thursday detailed two sexual harassment lawsuits that named Levinsohn while he worked at Alta Vista and News Corp, as well as complaints from employees.

Tronc failed in a bid to purchase the Sun-Times when the Justice Department blocked the transaction last spring, citing antitrust laws. The Sun-Times eventually was purchased by an investment group led by former Ald. Edwin Eisendrath, along with a coalition of labor unions.

Unionized newsroom employees at the Sun-Times are represented by the Chicago News Guild.