Just two weeks after journalists at the Chicago Tribune announced their intention to try and form a union, the organizing committee of the Chicago Tribune Guild has already amassed overwhelming support within the newsroom, it announced Tuesday morning.
“We are thrilled and humbled by the strength of support for this effort,” the organizing committee said in an email sent to the newsroom.
The organizing committee also hand-delivered a letter to Chicago Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold Tuesday morning, informing him that more than 85 percent of members of the multiple newsrooms making up the Guild have signed cards in support of unionization.
The Guild seeks to represent not only the nearly 300 journalists at the Chicago Tribune but also those at Chicago lifestyle site RedEye, the Spanish-language newspaper Hoy, the Naperville Sun, the Elgin Courier-News, the Daily Southtown and the Aurora Beacon-News.
As a result of the overwhelming support, the committee gave Dold the tight deadline of Wednesday at 11 a.m. by which point it wants leadership to voluntarily recognize the union.
“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,” the committee told Dold.
The Chicago Tribune is owned by publicly traded media company Tronc, which ran an aggressive anti-union campaign at The Los Angeles Times last year. In January, the newsroom ultimately voted to unionize anyway, and weeks later Tronc agreed to a deal to sell the newspaper to an area billionaire.
Charlie Johnson, a home page editor and key union organizer at the Tribune, told HuffPost earlier this month that the Times’ unionization drive “basically poured gasoline on an extinguishing kindle fire” at the Tribune.
After first learning of the Tribune newsroom’s intentions to try and unionize, Dold said in a statement provided by Tronc that management “has the utmost respect for the decisions you make and for your rights on this issue.”
“My door is open. Please come on in,” he added.
“We are reviewing the request of the Chicago Tribune Guild,” said Dold in a subsequent statement from Tronc. “We believe we can best build on the Chicago Tribune heritage and trust with readers by working together as an organization.”
Here is the email sent to Dold on Tuesday.
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 letter to the newsroom:
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 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
This article has been updated with a statement from Dold.