LOS ANGELES (CN) – After more than a year of contract negotiations at the Los Angeles Times, the newsroom’s union reached a contract agreement on Wednesday evening after the newspaper was purchased in February 2018 and broke away from a Chicago-based publisher.
The L.A. Times Guild, the union formed last year, announced the nearly 500 newsroom employees will see an immediate pay raise of at least 5% as part of the contract agreement with management.
That will include job protections, parental leave, severance pay and complete control over book deals. Earlier this year, the guild said during negotiations a clause was offered that would cede control of book deals or any other creative ventures outside of the newsroom that would cover all reporters.
The newsroom will also seek underrepresented groups to fill job openings as a means to increase newsroom diversity.
The L.A. Times was purchased last year for a reported $500 million by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. At the time, the newspaper was owned by the Chicago-based parent company Tronc, who were a major catalyst in the newsroom’s union efforts due to mismanagement, pay inequity for women and journalists of color and public clashes with editors and publishers.
After 136 years, the newsroom was unionized and Soon-Shiong moved the newspaper out of its downtown Los Angeles headquarters to El Segundo.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the publication has hired 150 journalists since Soon-Shiong took over.
In recent weeks, union representatives said over social media they were nearing a final contract agreement with management after marathon negotiations.
Carolina Miranda, co-chair of the L.A. Times Guild, said in a statement, “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together. It’s a difficult time in the industry, but we’ve landed significant pay increases and a broad safety net of job protections that are some of the best in the industry. We’re grateful that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is actively reinvesting in The Times. This is a win for journalism and a win for L.A.”
The guild is part of the NewsGuild component of the Communications Workers of America, who will need to ratify the contract agreement by vote and could go into effect by next month.
Anthony Pesce, co-chair of the guild, said in a statement, “More than two years ago, when a handful of Times journalists met at a bar to talk about forming a union, we never could have imagined that we were about to change the course of the paper.”