Unionized reporters, editors, photographers and others at the Baltimore Sun have launched an awareness campaign to help them secure an evasive 2.5 percent pay raise.
An open letter published online today details the troubles facing the unionized newsroom staff. The letter, signed by 71 staffers, notes that all non-unionized employees at the paper received a 2.5 percent raise this past spring from recently (and strangely) renamed parent company tronc, Inc. When the unionized journalists attempted to negotiate for their own pay raise, tronc asked for “deep concessions,” the staffers write, including reduced salary standards for all and a piecemeal approach to handing out raises that they say would skip over advertising department and printing facility employees.
To hammer their case home, the employees write:
We don’t think it’s fair in a year when the Baltimore Sun was a finalist in two Pulitzer Prize categories…when we — like everyone in our business these days — are working harder than ever to cover and serve our community with fewer resources…that some of those being denied raises put their personal safety at risk to cover the uprising following the death of Freddie Gray.
The authors of the post include household names that appear in your newspaper every morning in Baltimore. All are members of the Baltimore Sun segment unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. They argue tronc is attempting to weaken the union and lower the costs for their contract by holding out on raises.
As anyone who follows the shifting journalism industry may know, tronc, Inc., has been engaged in talks that could lead to a takeover of its 11 major city newspapers by media giant Gannett. The latter owns thousands of newspapers across the United States and has courted tronc all year with escalating offers.
In sharing their letter on Medium, the union members have asked for people to spread their appeal and include the hashtagged phrase #RaiseTheSun on any related tweets of Facebook posts.
The public appeal from staff at one of tronc’s top papers applies particular pressure on a day like today. Bloomberg reports that financing is looking shaky for a merger between tronc and Gannett. Some were expecting a deal as large as $1 billion to be on the table, but that now appears to have dissolved.