chicago — More than 200 reporters, photographers and other employees at the Chicago Tribune and six other newsrooms across the country began a 24-hour strike Thursday to protest years of “slow” contract negotiations and to demand fair wages.
The strike, which includes 76 members of the Chicago Tribune’s reporting staff, photographers and some editors, began at 5 a.m., said Caroline Kubzansky, a member of the Chicago Tribune Guild and the newspaper’s general reporter.
It is the latest recent strike in the American newspaper industry. The striking workers are employees of Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund that has been buying newspapers across the country and faces criticism for cutting budgets and cutting jobs.
NewsGuild-CWA, which represents employees, said workers participating in the 24-hour strike are demanding fair wages and that management not eliminate their 401(k) matching benefits. He said employees “have been fighting for a contract through their unions for five years.”
The strike “is the largest coordinated action the company’s journalists have taken against Alden Global Capital since the hedge fund bought Tribune Publishing in 2021, in a deal that saddled Tribune Publishing with $278 million in debt.” The NewsGuild-CWA said Wednesday in a news release.
The union said the cuts imposed by Alden Global Capital have “gutted newsrooms” and included cutting the Chicago Tribune staff from 111 to 76 people since June 2021. Those cuts “have hurt journalists’ ability to provide information.” quality public service and hold power accountable.” The NewsGuild-CWA said.
Union President Jon Schleuss said Alden Global Capital is a corporate hedge fund that is “filled with a lot of greed” and is “bent on destroying America’s newsrooms.”
“They’re siphoning all the money off the backs of all these journalists who are living paycheck to paycheck,” he said during a news conference Thursday about the strike. “Corporate greed in the media is out of control and hedge funds are at the center of that corporate greed.”
An email seeking comment on the strike was sent to Mitch Pugh, executive editor of the Chicago Tribune, who responded that all inquiries should be directed to Goldin Solutions. The Associated Press sent a message to Goldin Solutions Thursday morning seeking comment.
The one-day strike comes at a tumultuous time for media outlets, a growing number of which are owned by billionaires and have recently been hit by layoffs. Last week, Time magazine and Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and other major magazines, announced major job cuts.
The Los Angeles Times also said last week that it would lay off at least 115 employees (more than 20% of the newsroom) in one of the largest staff cuts in the newspaper’s 143-year history. And in late 2023, more than 200 workers at The Washington Post, owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accepted buyouts.
An estimated 2,681 news industry jobs have been lost through the end of November 2023, according to employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. That was more than the entire years of 2022 and 2021.
Aside from the Chicago Tribune and four sister newspapers in the Chicago suburbs, some of the other striking workers include employees at the Orlando Sentinel; The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania; The Virginian Pilot; the Daily Press, of Virginia; the Virginia Gazette; and Tidewater Review, according to The NewsGuild-CWA.
This story has been updated to correct the names of two newspapers to The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press instead of Virginian Press and Daily Pilot.