FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Great News for Organized Labor

Could it be that the worm is finally turning?

On Friday, January 19, it was announced that journalists, copy editors, and other workers at the LA Times, long regarded as one of this country’s great daily newspapers, had voted to join a union. Why was this particular election so special? Because it marked the first time in the paper’s 136 year history that its employees had ever been represented by a union.

According to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), which monitored the election and counted the votes, Times employees, by a whopping mandate of 284-44, voted to affiliate with the NewsGuild-CWA (Communication Workers of America).

As for being regarded as a “great” newspaper, people can quibble all they like, but they can’t deny the fact that the Times’ unambiguously anti-union, pro-corporate ownership (beginning with the Chandler family) was able to largely keep the editorial side independent and separated from the business side.

Besides regularly endorsing Democratic candidates over Republicans in state and national elections, the LA Times has featured such left-wing columnists as Harry Bernstein, Robert Scheer and the late, great Alexander Cockburn. I was privileged to meet Harry Bernstein in the 1980s, during an industrial strike, and began a long and gratifying correspondence with him.

As for the new union, its first order of business—before local union officers even sit down to negotiate its inaugural contract—was to request that Tronc, Inc. (since 2000, the parent company of the Times, and also the owners of, among others, the Chicago Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Orlando Sentinel) fire Ross Levinsohn, the paper’s despised publisher and CEO, who’s been accused of blatant sexual harassment and other misconduct.

Levinsohn, a slick, photogenic corporate creature with a winning smile, a marketing and public relations background, and virtually no experience as a reporter, journalist or anything resembling a “newspaper man,” has been accused of encouraging a male chauvinistic “frat boy” environment at the paper. Levinsohn himself has twice been named as defendant in lawsuits alleging sexual harassment.

Of course, for anyone who has followed the tortuous anti-union history of the LA Times, October 1, 1910, will forever be regarded as the ruination of any chance management and labor had for reaching any kind of agreement. It was on that date that over-zealous, pro-union thugs planted dynamite at Times headquarters.

The explosion and subsequent fire wound up killing 21 people, and injuring more than 100 others. The LA Times, which referred to the dynamiting as the “crime of the century,” has remained stubbornly, almost “metaphysically,” non-union ever since. Until last Friday.

In 1911, two members of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, brothers James and Joseph McNamara, were charged with the bombing. Due to the intensity and vehemence of the Times’ anti-union crusade, the case became a cause celebre of the labor movement.

The AFL (American Federation of Labor) hired noted attorney Clarence Darrow to defend the brothers. Before going to trial, James pleaded guilty to setting the bomb, and was sentenced to life in prison.

So now the LA Times has joined the proud, collectivist ranks of the unionized. It was a huge move, an historic move, one that will finally offer the employees an active voice in determining their own fate. In any event, it has to be taken as a major step forward for whatever remains of the American labor movement.

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is still wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Robert Koehler
The Nuclear Status Quo
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail