Chicago Reader staff accepts new contract

Chicago Reader

Seventeen editorial employees of the Chicago Reader voted unanimously to ratify a new contract, the Chicago News Guild announced Friday.

It took nearly two years of negotiations, a strike threat and a change of ownership for staffers of the alternative weekly to achieve their first contract in the publication’s 46-year history.

The one-year deal provides salaries increases averaging 8.4 percent and other benefits. The contract sets minimum salaries ranging from $38,480 for new hires to $46,816 for those with 20 or more years of service, according to the announcement.

Philip Montoro

“We at the Reader union know how little money there is to go around in publishing, because we’ve been keeping the paper great with progressively diminishing resources for a decade,” Philip Montoro, the Reader’s music editor and head of the Guild bargaining committee, said in a statement. “Under the circumstances, we’re grateful to the new ownership for investing in us at all, and we look forward to working together to create the growth that will make it possible for them to keep doing so.”

Negotiations had stalled between the Guild and the Reader’s previous owner, former Chicago Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC, resulting in federal mediation efforts and a union strike authorization in May. The dynamic changed in July when the Reader and Sun-Times were sold to an investment group led by former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath and a coalition of labor unions affiliated with the Chicago Federation of Labor.

“The investors have shown they value fairness in the workplace, certainly in comparison with the former owners,” Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Guild, said in a statement.  “We want to help them achieve a turnaround at the Reader that rewards our members for its progress.”

Said Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor and chairman of the Reader and Sun-Times parent company: “It is important to the leadership team that we respect and invest in the men and women who make this paper what it is. This contract sets the foundation for us to show our commitment to their work and to allow them to unleash their creative power for years to come.”

Friday’s best comment: John McHugh: Of all the frauds and phonies I’ve witnessed in my many decades of watching Chicago sports, Mike Ditka is truly the worst. All that talent, and he leads his team to one Super Bowl victory. In fact, the Bears, under Iron Sybil, won only a single playoff game afterterwards. If anyone was “the coach,” it was Buddy Ryan. Ditka was a huge hypocrite – tellling his players not to endorse products (in order to focus on football) while he becomes America’s Shill. Plus, there’s the bully side to him — screaming at reporters who ask him a tough question. All those lop-sided losses on Monday Night Football — when will Chicago ever learn? If it wasn’t for those embarrassing skits on Saturday Night Live, he would have been forgotten long ago. No wonder he supports Donald Trump — he’s just like him.