Jan 31, 2024 - Business

Chicago Tribune staffers to walk off the job Thursday

Photo of a truck parked in front of a building

Newspaper delivery trucks wait to be loaded at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center in 2015. Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chicago Tribune journalists and other employees are planning a 24-hour walkout on Thursday to protest wages and cuts that the union says are hindering its news coverage.

Why it matters: Staffers of Chicago's largest newspaper are joining more than 200 Tribune Publishing employees in what's set to be the biggest strike since investment firm Alden Global Capital purchased the company in 2021.

The big picture: Walkouts are also planned at other Alden-owned publications around the country, including The Orlando Sentinel and The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

  • Striking workers aim to call out "longstanding wage inequities" at Alden, a firm known for gutting U.S. newspapers to maximize profits.

Zoom in: In Chicago, the strike will include reporters, photographers, page designers and editors, leaving the paper short-staffed to publish articles and print the next day's paper.

  • Workers plan to picket in front of their Freedom Center offices on West Grand Avenue on Thursday, starting at 9am.
  • Tribune journalists took to social media to ask people not to read the paper or website on Thursday.

What they're saying: "Our journalists don't want to be the story, but we will fight like hell to preserve our work and serve our communities," Chicago Tribune investigative reporter and guild member Gregory Pratt tells Axios.

Alden and Tribune executive editor Mitch Pugh didn't immediately return Axios' requests for comment.

Context: The Tribune Guild has been without a contract since it formed in 2018.

  • In December, the Chicago Tribune Guild staged a protest in front of the Trib Tower on Michigan Avenue, accusing Alden of stalling negotiations and making offers that the guild says aren't in line with inflation.
  • Before that, the last time Tribune staffers hit the picket line was almost 40 years ago. That strike, which included 1,000 printers, pressmen and mailers, lasted years and the Tribune replaced many of the union workers.

Zoom out: 2024 has already been a rough year for news media outlets. The Los Angeles Times (once owned by Tribune Co.) laid off at least 115 employees, and both Time and Sports Illustrated have slashed their staffs.

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