Union employees at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner voted overwhelmingly Sunday to authorize a strike against the Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper, if negotiations fail to resolve a contract dispute over wages and working conditions.
The employees, members of District 2 of the Graphics Communication International Union, said the strike authorization was passed 252 to 48. The current contract was due to expire at midnight Sunday.
Workers complain that the newspaper is understaffed and uses “archaic” computers.
“We feel the Hearst Corp. hasn’t made a commitment to make this a good newspaper,” said reporter Susan Seager, speaking for union representatives. “We want a commitment that they will start investing in the paper and make it grow again.”
After the vote, union and management resumed talks at the Sheraton Town House.
“We are negotiating in good faith and we are hopeful that we will reach a settlement satisfactory to both sides,” the paper’s chief operating executive, John J. McCabe, said Sunday.
“In the meantime we are continuing to publish the newspaper with complete news, sports and feature reports.”
The weekly top pay scale for Herald reporters is $563 compared to $801 at its smaller sister newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner, union spokesmen said. Herald pressmen earn top scale of $542 a week, compared to $650 in San Francisco.
Emerging from the emotion-charged strike vote meeting, some employees raised their fists and chanted “We deserve better!” Employees also wore black T-shirts with the inscription: “We work at the Herald--nothing else does.”