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LA Times guild to strike for a day against impending layoffs

Los Angeles Times newspaper headquarter

LA Times guild to strike for a day against impending layoffs

Los Angeles Times newsroom guild leaders have called for a one-day strike over planned staff cuts.

The layoffs aim to mitigate huge financial losses incurred by the paper's owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, and his family over the past six years. 

The looming cuts, which remain undisclosed by management , are driven by a widening budget deficit and are set to be the largest staff reduction since Tribune Co. ownership.

The call for a strike follows the recent departure of Executive Editor Kevin Merida.

He left the firm amid tensions with Soon-Shiong, particularly concerning the potential impact of the proposed cuts on the paper's journalistic progress. 

The newsroom is already reeling from the abrupt exit of Merida, and anxiety has surged throughout the staff as the extent of the impending cuts becomes apparent.

This round of layoffs, the third since June, is expected to affect at least 100 journalists, constituting approximately 20 percent of the newsroom. 

In response to the financial challenges faced by the paper, Soon-Shiong has sought to modify the union's contract to relax provisions protecting senior journalists from layoffs. 

The proposed changes would allow affected employees to receive a buyout package before any layoff.

Soon-Shiong aims to make cuts while preserving diversity among recent hires.

The guild's leadership, representing various caucuses within the newsroom, has expressed concerns about the potential elimination of essential voices and the setback to diversity efforts. 

Management has proposed saving 50 newsroom jobs by relaxing seniority rules.

Union anger

This suggestion has angered union members who feel pressured to compromise a fundamental principle of job security.

In response to the management's actions, the newsroom guild has declared a one-day "unfair labor practice strike" as a demonstration of unity and an attempt to secure concessions.

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The guild said the strike was not open-ended and asserted that it was the decision of individual members whether to participate.

The ongoing negotiations reflect the broader challenges traditional media outlets face, with declining revenues, shifts in the news landscape, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Soon-Shiong, who acquired the Los Angeles Times in 2018, is willing to continue subsidizing the paper.

However, he said the cuts are essential to address financial losses from $30 million to $40 million in the previous year.

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