As contract negotiations drag on at the Chicago Reader, editorial employees of the alternative weekly newspaper authorized their union Friday to call a strike.
Seventeen writers, editors and designers represented by the Chicago News Guild voted to walk out at any time over management’s failure to offer increases in salary and benefits since talks began 16 months ago.
“Management seems to think it can get rid of its union problem by dragging this out until the entire staff quits to find work that will pay the bills,” Philip Montoro, the Reader’s music editor and head of the Guild bargaining committee, said in a statement. “Many of us are working second jobs or subletting our apartments to get by because the paper’s hugely wealthy owners seem to think they can retain talented full-time staff with decades of experience by paying them salaries that were substandard 10 years ago.
“We’ve got an offer on the table and the company has not reciprocated. It’s past time for management to treat us with respect.”
In response to the strike authorization announcement, the company said it hopes to continue negotiations.
“We have worked with the Chicago News Guild for several months on a contract and have made significant progress in a number of areas,” Jim Kirk, editor and publisher of Sun-Times Media Group, said in statement.
“And while we remain apart on some issues, we continue to hope we can keep negotiating to a positive resolution. It is unfortunate that the Guild has taken this step. Reader management and the Guild continue to be in talks with the help of a federal mediator and we remain committed to negotiating in good faith.”