TNG-CWA Calls for Representation of Worker Interests in Tribune Company ESOP
Following is a statement by Linda Foley, president of TNG-CWA, on the proposed sale of Tribune Co. newspapers and television stations to real estate investor Samuel Zell.
Washington, D.C. -- Few details of the bid by Samuel Zell to buy the Tribune Company have been spelled out, other than the fact that an employee stock ownership plan will play a major part in the transaction. But this much is clear: The Newspaper Guild-CWA will do everything possible on behalf of union-represented workers at the properties and to look out for the interests of all 20,000 Tribune Company employees.
The employee stock ownership plan – a significant part of this deal – can result in a positive partnership that benefits everyone involved or it can be a frustrating experience for worker-investors who end up bearing much of risk while experiencing little positive gain.
We hope that this will not be the case as this transaction goes forward. Samuel Zell has described his vision as a “partnership” between his organization and Tribune Company employees who would be participating in the ESOP.
Because the introduction of an ESOP is a mandatory subject for collective bargaining, union-represented workers at several of the Tribune Company properties – the Baltimore Sun, WPIX-TV in New York and Newsday – will be able to evaluate and fully assess the benefits and risks of such a plan.
TNG-CWA believes that all Tribune Company employees deserve this same opportunity and level of representation, and we are committed to providing that voice. For this effort to succeed, it must be more than an ESOP designed for investment purposes only. It must provide a real opportunity for workers to have a voice, first in evaluating the plan, and also in how the effort goes forward.
TNG-CWA is intrigued by the possibilities that could result from a genuine, new partnership. We bring a wealth of experience from work in December 2005, when we hired advisers to help us initiate ESOP transactions to protect our members working for Knight Ridder newspapers. Our union learned a tremendous amount about how these transactions are done and what we will be able to do to influence them.
We are committed to putting that knowledge and experience to work for all Tribune Company employees. For further information, the best resource for staying current with the Tribune transaction remains http://www.tribunewatch.org/.