L.A. Times journalists ratify groundbreaking first contract

Below is a copy of the announcement that first appeared on the website of LAT Guild.

Oct. 31, 2019 – Journalists of the Los Angeles Times voted 388 to 3 on Thursday to ratify the first collective bargaining agreement in the newsroom’s 138-year history. The contract will dramatically improve the quality of life for the journalists who produce The Times as well as help lift standards across the media industry.

“Our union began as a small rebellion. Now generations of future L.A. Times journalists will enjoy better pay and job protections,” said Anthony Pesce, co-chair of the L.A. Times Guild. “It’s thrilling to see so many other newsrooms across the country join our fight.”

The Guild’s three-year agreement, reached Oct. 16, will provide for:

  • an average raise of more than $11,000 per person in its first year. Most members will receive at least a 5% raise on ratification, followed by across-the-board raises of 2.5% in each of the next two years.

  • pay minimums for all newsroom positions and step raises based on industry experience.

  • extensive limits on the company’s ability to subcontract or outsource union work to non-union employees

  • restrictions on imposing work or subscription quotas.

  • a stronger version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, requiring managers, when possible, to interview at least two candidates who are women or members of traditionally underrepresented groups, including Black, Latino, Asian American, Native and LGBTQ journalists.

The Guild also secured many other benefits: improved public transit subsidies, protections against increases in healthcare costs, just-cause employment protections, guaranteed severance packages, protections against harassment and retaliation, and the right to pursue personal book projects and retain intellectual property rights to those books.

“Part of the reason I unionized to begin with is because the L.A. Times was the only newsroom I’d worked in that didn’t have basic job protections — things like guaranteed severance or just-cause employment,” said Carolina Miranda, co-chair of the Guild. “This contract achieves that and more.”

The L.A. Times Guild represents nearly 500 newsroom employees, including reporters, columnists, data journalists, copy editors, librarians, web producers, audio producers, page designers, photographers and videographers. Times journalists voted to unionize in January 2018 by a 248-44 vote and began bargaining in July 2018, shortly after the newspaper was sold to Los Angeles billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The union campaign at The Times, the largest news organization in the western United States, has been followed by a nationwide flurry of organizing at media outlets including the Chicago Tribune, the Virginian Pilot, the Florida Times-Union, BuzzFeed News and the Arizona Republic.

The L.A. Times Guild is a unit of the Media Guild of the West, a new NewsGuild-CWA local being formed in Los Angeles whose leaders will be elected soon.

Photo: Union and management celebrate the near-unanimous vote with a cake, that says, “Strong Contract. Strong Newsroom.”