Today, the National Labor Review Board counted ballots cast by the Los Angeles Times newsroom and found support for the union among 85 percent (or 248 people) of staffers eligible to join, the Los Angeles Times reported. Will this new union have any bearing on where the paper’s newsroom moves when its lease is up this summer?
Though the newly formed guild couldn’t block a newsroom move, they can make sure that reporters have “a mechanism for the staff to express their concerns about the move,” says staff writer and guild organizing committee member Carolina A. Miranda.
Ideally, the company should “consult with journalists prior to any major decisions so that our needs are taken into account,” Miranda says.
That hasn’t happened so far. Earlier this month, Times reporters discovered that Tronc, the paper’s parent company, was considering a number of odd relocation options, including moving the newsroom to the deep Westside (Santa Monica and Playa Vista) or to several open-office-style floors of the Aon Center in Downtown.
A Westside move could be especially troubling, Miranda says, as it would put reporters far away from many of the civic and cultural institutions that they cover. “The concern for much of the staff is that a move away from downtown will make reporting that much more difficult,” says Miranda.
Beyond geography, the most upsetting part of the relocation proposals, according to the organizing committee, was that no one in the newsroom knew anything about the plans beyond what they’d discovered independently.
The clock is ticking pretty loudly on moving the paper’s offices. The Times’s lease at its current home is only through June, and the entire Times Mirror Square site is slated for redevelopment as a mixer-user with tall residential towers and a commercial space—a project that could begin as early as 2019.
But Tronc is juggling a lot right now. The announcement that reporters at the paper have elected to unionize for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history comes just one day after a scathing NPR report on the Times’s publisher, Ross Levinsohn, and his history of workplace sexual misconduct. The Times reported today that Levinsohn has been placed on unpaid leave pending an investigation.