Tronc to recognize Chicago Tribune Guild
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A unionized newsroom will be officially recognized by the Chicago Tribune for the first time in the paper’s 170-year history.
According to a statement released by the Chicago Tribune Guild, on Sunday, Tronc will bargain with three separate bargaining units, Chicago Tribune and RedEye, Hoy, The Beacon News, The Courier-News, Naperville Sun, Daily Southtown, along with Design and Production Studio (DPS).
The Tribune Guild expects union certification from the National Labor Relations Board in the coming week, according to David Roeder, a former Chicago Sun-Times business columnist who now consults for the Chicago News Guild and Chicago Tribune Guild.
“They [Tronc] have agreed to recognize three different bargaining groups and have pledged to begin negotiations with these groups for a first contract. It is extremely rare for a company as large and as complex as the Tribune to voluntarily recognize a labor union. Usually they require that things go to a secret ballot election but when we filed to be recognized as a union we did so with 85 percent of people [staff] signing union cards indicating their support,” Roeder said. “They decided not to fight that. They agreed with us that everyone their request to be recognized as a bargaining unit, we should go straight on to bargaining a contract.”
Roeder told the Sun-Times that Tronc employees are “ecstatic” over the news. He also said that 230 members have signed union cards, and that number can go up to 280 during contract negotiations.
“They are thrilled at this development. We at the Chicago [News] Guild are looking forward to supporting them as they are trying to seek a just contract for all of their members.”
On Sunday, Guild members sent a letter to the their Tribune colleagues informing them that their union will be recognized by Tronc.
When Tribune newsroom staffers announced their intent to unionize last month, the Tribune’s publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold said: “We do not have enough information to make such a decision and therefore we decline to recognize at this time. We believe the best course for navigating this process is through the procedures and resources of the National Labor Relations Board.”
In recent years, staff members at WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate, the Better Government Association, and The Chicago Reader signed union cards.
In an emailed statement sent to the Sun-Times sent by a Chicago Tribune Guild member, The Tribune Guild said they are ready to sit down at the bargaining table with Tronc representatives.
“The Guild is eager to take its seat at the bargaining table and is pleased that Tronc has recognized the legal rights of its workers and the strength of their desire to unionize. It is a clear victory for journalism and journalists.”