Underpaid and overworked? Disrespected by the boss? When all else fails, you and all your colleagues can print out your salaries and tape them up around the office.
The picture above is from the office of the Chicago Reader, one of the most storied alt-weeklies in America. Today, employees at the Reader announced that they have voted to authorize a strike. They didn’t make that decision in a rash manner. Despite the fact that they joined the Chicago News Guild in January of 2015, they have not yet signed a first contract. That’s almost 28 months. By comparison, nine months passed from the time we at (formerly) Gawker Media voted to unionize to the time when we ratified our first union contract.
For the past 16 months, the unionized employees at the Reader have not gotten any raises—and, they say, “some staffers have not received so much as a cost-of-living raise in more than a decade.” That is on top of staffing cuts of more than 30% since the current owners, Wrapports LLC, took over in 2012. Those owners are a group of wealthy investors. The highest paid editorial staffer at the Reader makes $55,000 per year.
Despite hundreds of years of historical demonstration of this fact, many rich people still do not know that if you want to own a news outlet staffed by professionals, you have to treat your employees like professionals. Crazy but true.