Monday, May 7, 2018

EXTRA: Tribune goes union! Or is this just the point where the “war” begins?

Call it a shock, if you will. But I was stunned (sort of) to learn that the Chicago Tribune management on Sunday conceded the right of their editorial staffers to organize themselves into a union.
What kind of content will fill news boxes of the future?
The typical process would have been for a National Labor Relations Board-overseen election, with management going out of its way to intimidate its reporter-type people into thinking they don’t need no stinkin’ union.

INSTEAD, MANAGEMENT CONCEDES a majority of their reporters are banded together, and they will have to work out some sort of contract with them to define terms of employment and conditions and other items of interest.

Which, of course, is the real significant point.

In these times where too many companies that have to deal with unions go out of their way to play hardball in negotiations, it is a tactic I would not be surprised to see take place with the Tribune – given its strong, anti-union history of existence.

How long will it take for contract talks to even begin. How quickly will things get stalled. How many months will it take before we have an impasse. Will we someday see Tribune-types picketing that new building they’re moving into this summer – what with the Tribune Tower having been sold off from out under the paper to provide the broadcast division additional revenue?

I’M OLD ENOUGH to remember the 1980s when the Tribune undermined the unions that represented their pressmen, and I also remember the creation of new positions that were union-exempt to deal with the striking workers -- who basically never recovered their former strength.

Is that what could be put forth for the editorial side? Perhaps create a new class of reporter-type people who would do significant amounts of work, while strictly limiting the job classifications that would be covered by the contract.

I don’t doubt there are many younger people with editorial aspirations who’d think nothing of taking such jobs. My own drawback on the job market these days is that I expect to be compensated fairly for my work – which I’m sure is perceived as a hostile act toward some corporate financial bottom line.

In short, I’m happy for those reporter-types who feel a sense of victory in gaining union recognition without much of a fight. But it also means management will be fully armed (and ammo’ed) for the contract negotiation “war” that is forthcoming.


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