Unions protest any sale of Tribune papers to Koch brothers
California unions are increasing their opposition to any sale of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Co. newspapers to the Koch brothers, urging the City Council to oppose such a deal and planning a protest for Tuesday.
Charles and David Koch, wealthy siblings who fund conservative causes, are said to be interested in buying the newspapers.
Two union leaders sent a letter to members of the Los Angeles City Council on Monday night, urging members to speak out against the Koch brothers and to consider divesting pension funds from firms that own The Times if the newspaper is sold to the men.
“The Koch Brothers’ America is one not consistent with the policies and values of the city of Los Angeles,” said the letter, signed by Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation and Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Three council members, including mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, have discussed changing the city’s pension investments if The Times is sold to buyers who do not support “professional and objective journalism.”
Tuesday’s protest is scheduled for noon at the Los Angeles headquarters of Oaktree Capital Management, the largest shareholder in the Tribune Co. It is expected to include an appearance from musician Ry Cooder, who is scheduled to sing an anti-Koch song he wrote.
“Don’t sell out to the Koch brothers / Don’t let the brothers in the door,” read the lyrics. “We don’t want them taking over / That is what we’re marching for.”
[Updated, 7:55 p.m. May 13: A spokeswoman for Koch Industries, Melissa Cohlmia, described the unions’ efforts as “a protest about a rumor.”
She said the company respects the rights of unions, which represent 30% of its workforce.]
A spokeswoman for Oaktree, Alyssa Linn of the Sard Verbinnen & Co public relations firm, declined to comment.
Tribune emerged from bankruptcy at the end of last year and is exploring the sale of The Times and the company’s seven other newspapers.
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