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Los Angeles Times gets union, loses publisher
20 January 2018, 05:25 | Vickie Mathis
Ben Gabbe Getty Images File
Dearborn added Mickie Rosen will lead the LA Times and Lewis D'Vorkin will lead the newsroom in Levinsohn's absence.
The final vote count was 248 in favor and 44 against, according to the tweet by the guild.
Levinsohn was reportedly again among the defendants listed in a harassment lawsuit in 2006, this time while working as an executive senior vice president for News Corp.
The announcement comes a day after an NPRreport uncovered allegations of sexual misconduct against the Times' publisher and CEO, Ross Levinsohn, increasing tensions between staffers and the executives who have always been hostile to the union campaign.
"There was a time, way back when, when a guild couldn't make headway in the newsroom, because the people were treated very well", Paul Pringle, an investigative reporter who helped spearhead the drive, said in an interview before the vote. A group of LA Times employees that are attempting to establish a union at the paper called for Levinsohn to be fired.
Ross Levinsohn "has voluntarily agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence, effective immediately", Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a message to employees Friday afternoon.
The report said that in 2001 Levinsohn worked as an executive with Alta Vista, a search engine company, and was the defendant in a gender discrimination and sexual harassment case. Levinsohn reportedly cut his appearance at an industry event in the Los Angeles area short, allegedly telling an executive for the Hollywood Reporter that he didn't want to "hang out with with a bunch of ladies and fags".
The Los Angeles Times newsroom has never been represented by a union, but the organization effort, which geared up last year, comes after years of steep declines in print advertising, staff cutbacks and management turnover. Dearborn said the company has hired corporate law firm, Sidley Austin LLP, to conduct an investigation into the allegations. One attendee from another company recalled that she got onboard, having been invited by Levinsohn to talk business.
Levinsohn called the allegations "lies" during a call with NPR.
NPR said Levinsohn did not respond on the record to detailed questions. In response, more than 180 newsroom employees signed a letter saying Levinsohn has "lost credibility as the leader of one of the country's top newspapers".
The paper's publisher, Tronc, has also firmly rebuffed the union campaign that staffers launched in October, warning that in attempts to negotiate for better compensation, union members may be forced to lose out on other benefits, such as 401 (k) matching. "We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what's occurred". "At Tronc, we expect all employees to act in a way that supports a culture of diversity and inclusion. We will not hesitate to take further action, if appropriate, once the review is complete".
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