Ex-LA Weekly politics reporter Marc Haefele, writing in his regular spot at the L.A. Alternative Press, is the first to detail in print the labor disturbance rippling his old newsroom. He says at least five senior editorial and art department staffers — including education reporter Howard Blume — have filed union grievances. Most, Haefele reports, are being forced out of their jobs and complain it's because of pressure from Village Voice Media corporate in New York to cut the bigger salaries. Janet Wright of the International Association of Machinists (representing the editorial staff) says in the story that things have gotten nasty.
"Our past relationship with management was very good; there’s been a steady three-year decline,” she said. In fact, back in the 1990s, then-editor and political commentator Harold Meyerson helped bring the Machinists on board as the Weekly’s union. Wright dates the union’s problem with management to current editor Laurie Ochoa’s takeover in 2001. It also coincides with the earlier ouster of longtime Weekly publisher Mike Sigman and more direct involvement of New York-based VVM CEO [David] Schneiderman in the Weekly’s operations...
Other union reps contend that negotiations have become bellicose, with management, otherwise at a loss to discharge satisfactory employees, invoking an “aesthetic differences” contract clause without, however, defining what such fatal differences might be.
Weekly publisher Beth Sestanovich, via a spokeswoman, declined comment on the entire matter.
Blume faces a Nov. 1 ouster from his job, but didn't wish to discuss it with Haefele: "As a union steward, I’m handling three pending grievances myself."