Organizers at the historically conservative Chicago Tribune have given their bosses until Wednesday morning to voluntarily recognize their union, adding that they have the overwhelming staff support needed to prevail in a National Labor Relations Board election.
In a letter delivered to Tribune Editor and Publisher Bruce Dold on Tuesday morning, the paper’s organizing committee said that more than 85 percent of newsroom staff in its proposed bargaining unit had signed union cards. It asked Dold—and by extension tronc, the Tribune’s Chicago-based parent company—to provide an answer by 11 a.m. Wednesday.
“Voluntary recognition would allow us to begin contract negotiations, saving the company the cost and inconvenience of a campaign and an election that will result overwhelmingly in our favor,” the organizing committee wrote. “If we do not hear back by the deadline, and/or if the company does not wish to voluntarily recognize the Guild, we will file the signature cards with the National Labor Relations Board.”
In a statement shared by tronc Tuesday afternoon, Dold did not provide a firm answer to the question of voluntary recognition.
“We are reviewing the request of the Chicago Tribune Guild,” he said. “We believe we can best build on the Chicago Tribune heritage and trust with readers by working together as an organization. We will continue to work toward our common goal of ensuring that the Chicago Tribune is a leading source for news and information, whatever the outcome.”
The organization of the Tribune newsroom comes after the traditionally anti-labor Los Angeles Times unionized through a January NLRB vote that garnered nearly 85 percent support. Tronc was openly hostile toward that latter effort—pitting management against its own journalists—and it has since agreed to sell the paper to an LA billionaire.
In Chicago, there have been few signs since the Tribune organizing committee went public earlier this month that tronc was taking a similarly aggressive stance.
“While we have a deadline here, the ball will remain in their court and they can always do the right thing [by voluntarily recognizing our union],” one organizer told me by phone on Tuesday. “That could be two hours after the deadline passes, it could be two days, it could be two weeks.”
Read the organizing committee’s full letter delivered to Dold on Tuesday below:
We are asking Tronc to voluntarily recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild and begin contract negotiations.
More than 85 percent of our colleagues have signed union authorization cards in support of the Chicago Tribune Guild. The 46-member organizing committee is drawn from all over our newsrooms, and the large number of signatures collected within days reflects that wide reach and our dedication.
Voluntary recognition would allow us to begin contract negotiations, saving the company the cost and inconvenience of a campaign and an election that will result overwhelmingly in our favor.
Please let us know by 11 a.m. on April 25 if Tronc will voluntarily recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild.
If we do not hear back by the deadline, and/or if the company does not wish to voluntarily recognize the Guild, we will file the signature cards with the National Labor Relations Board.
Chicago Tribune Guild organizing committee
And here is the message shared with the newsroom soon after announcing the guild’s request:
We have great news to share: More than 85 percent of our collective newsrooms have signed cards authorizing the Chicago Tribune Guild unionization effort. We are thrilled and humbled by the strength of support for this effort.
Given this degree of support, this morning we asked the company to respect the will of our newsrooms and voluntarily recognize our bargaining unit. The letter of request, delivered to Bruce Dold personally this morning, is below.
Voluntary recognition would allow us to begin negotiating a contract. The company has already stated it wishes to address some of our concerns — base pay, merit raises, minority representation — and we are eager to begin discussions.
If the company does not recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild, we will file the signature cards tomorrow with the National Labor Relations Board, and an election will be scheduled.
We will keep you updated in the days and weeks to come.
We have been heartened by your support over the last week and look forward to making this happen. If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, please speak to any committee member. We want to hear from you.
Chicago Tribune Guild organizing committee
Update, 1:05 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a comment from Dold, the Tribune’s editor and publisher.