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Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel Plan One-Day Strike With 5 Other Tribune Newsrooms

Journalists at the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and five other Tribune Publishing newsrooms across the country will hold a one-day strike on Thursday in a historic walkout to protest what the staffers’ guild says are unfair wages.

They’re also protesting cuts made by Alden Global Capital, who purchased Tribune Publishing in 2021.

According to an an email from the Tribune Publishing Guild, the hedge fund has decimated the newsrooms it acquired and strip-mined its media assets for profits. Papers owned by Alden have “cut staff at twice the rate of their competitors, and circulation has fallen faster at their papers than at their peers.”

“We didn’t go into this job for the money, but Alden’s cuts have hit so close to the bone that we can’t even do our jobs as journalists anymore. Enough is enough. Journalists deserve to be able to retire with dignity,” said Madeline Buckley, criminal courts reporter at the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Tribune Guild unit chair in a release.

“The company’s insulting proposals on wages and benefits puts our future at risk, along with our ability to continue to produce the hard-hitting journalism this city relies upon,” Buckley added.

TheWrap has reached out to Tribune Publishing for comment on the planned walkouts.

Journalists at the seven Tribune outlets will be holding a Zoom rally Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET. In Orlando, a picket and press conference will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET at Gaston Edwards Park.

Most Tribune workers have not seen a pay raise since 2018, the guild said in their press release.

Tribune Publishing journalists have been fighting for a contract since unions were formed at the following papers: The Chicago Tribune Guild (2018), the Tidewater Guild, representing The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press reporters (2018) Morning Call Guild, representing the Allentown Pennsylvania Morning Call (2019) and the Orlando Sentinel Guild in 2020.

Alden has suggested eliminating the company’s 401k match, refusing to provide any across-the-board pay increases, and proposing two years of $1,500 bonuses instead of a pay increase, the guild said.

In response, unionized journalists at papers owned by Alden have held a series of actions to protest the company’s stance: In December, Chicago Tribune journalists and other staffers held a protest of Alden’s management at Tribune Tower in Chicago. And last week in New York, staff at the Alden-owned New York Daily News, who are represented by The NewsGuild of New York, held a historic walkout.

“Many of our colleagues take on second jobs or leave journalism simply to make ends meet,” said Dave Mulcahey, a Tribune Content Agency business editor. “No media outlet that cares about the quality of its product would pay its staff in this way.”

“We’re watching a systematic chipping away at one of the pillars of our democracy. They are literally sucking the life out of our communities’ newspapers right before our eyes. If we’re not vigilant, these vital community institutions will be gone,” said Dave Roknic, a print production specialist on the Morning Call’s design and production studio team.

In Los Angeles, LA Times staffers staged a walkout on Jan. 19 to protest pending layoffs. Despite the action, more than 100 staffers were cut when layoffs were announced on Jan. 23. The LA Times is owned by Patrick Soon-Shiong and is not part of Tribune Publishing.

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