Chicago Welcomes Gary Post-Tribune Unit

By Ralph Zahorik

The newest unit of the Chicago Newspaper Guild includes workers at another Sun-Times Media Group daily newspaper and adds a Hoosier voice to the local.

The local now represents reporters, photographers and other editorial workers at the Post-Tribune which covers Northwest Indiana. “With more numbers, it gives us a stronger voice in bargaining,” said Teresa Schultz, Gary unit chairperson.

Members of the Gary Newspaper Guild voted to merge with the Chicago Newspaper Guild local in 2011. The new unit is called the Gary unit, although the Post-Tribune dropped Gary from its masthead decades ago moved its editorial office to Merrillville, Ind., in 2000 and closed its Gary printing plant in 2007.

Joint bargaining is under way now between all five newspapers now represented by the Chicago Newspaper Guild and the Sun-Times Media Group.

“We have a common employer, the Sun-Times group, so it makes sense for us to stick together,” said Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild. “And we’re all bargaining together now, for the first time. Gary will make the local stronger, and help Gary.”

Gary Guild members, like other Sun-Times Group employees represented by the Guild, and members of other trade unions, agreed in October 2009 to pay cuts and contract concessions as a condition for the bankruptcy sale of the Sun-Times newspapers to a group of private investors headed by the late James Tyree. Gary Guild members overwhelmingly voted against the first Tyree proposal.

Gary employees, like other newspaper workers around the country, have been hard hit by pay cuts and layoffs over the past decade. Post-Tribune employees worked without a contract and without raises for years when the ex-convict and former media tycoon Conrad Black, and his associates owned the newspaper.

Layoffs have continued since Black’s departure. Schultz estimated the Post Tribune editorial staff has been cut by a third or more in the past few years. “We had 14 reporters and now we’re down to five,” she said.

Schultz, a reporter who mainly covers federal courts in Hammond, Is a journalism graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind… , and went to high school in Greenfield, near Indianapolis. Before joining the Post-Tribune five years ago she worked at the Marion Chronicle, a daily newspaper in west central Indiana.

In addition to the Post-Tribune in Indiana, the Chicago Guild represents workers at four Sun-Times owned newspaper entities in Illinois: The Chicago Sun-Times, the Herald-News in Joliet, the Lake County News-Sun in Waukegan and the Pioneer Press newspaper chain based in Glenview.

The Gary local had no paid staff before the merger. Gary Guild members negotiated contracts and handled grievances mostly on their own with assistance from Bruce Nelson, an international representative.

The Post-Tribune covers Lake and Porter counties in Indiana. Gary was dropped from the masthead in the late 1960s, after its sale to Knight-Ridder, and it became a morning newspaper in 1986. Conrad Black’s Hollinger bought the newspaper in 1998.

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