An Alden/Tribune FAQ: What we know right now

Colleagues,

We received a disappointing lack of information from Tribune in the Teams town halls. We find it hard to believe that CEO Terry Jimenez knows nothing about Alden Global Capital and the imminent threat they pose to our newsrooms.

From the day the news broke, the joint bargaining units have been putting together a list of frequently asked questions about Alden's sale proposal and how it affects us at DPS. Let us know if we can answer any questions not represented here.

IS ALDEN GOING TO TAKE OVER TRIBUNE PUBLISHING?

It looks that way. On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Alden and Tribune announced an agreement that would have the hedge fund assume full ownership of the company, with an outside investor taking on Tribune's Maryland properties.

WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?

According to a joint press release from Tribune and Alden, the deal is expected to close sometime during the second quarter of 2021 (June 30).

CAN THIS BE STOPPED?

Though by far the most likely outcome is an Alden takeover, there are ways the deal could fall apart, including a failure to win approval from two-thirds of Tribune shareholders. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the company's second largest shareholder, has effective veto power over the deal and could halt it single-handedly. It is unclear currently whether he plans to do so.

WHAT IF LOCAL INVESTORS COME FORWARD?

While it's difficult to know exactly what Alden plans moving forward, its willingness to sell off the Baltimore Sun and other Maryland papers suggests some willingness to deal with local investors. That means it may not be too late for local investors in different Tribune markets to step in and rescue our papers before Alden can do its worst.

DO WE STILL HAVE A UNION?

Yes! Absolutely nothing changes in that regard. You are still in a union and that means we collectively still must fight and organize to protect each other.

WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR STATUS QUO PROTECTIONS?

Because this is a stock sale, the status quo established under Tribune continues to stay in place. That means current working conditions must be preserved or else we can file an unfair labor practice charge against the company. It also means that layoffs and buyouts would be mandatory subjects of bargaining. The NewsGuild's position is that there can be no layoffs under status quo (unless the company were to go to court and prove economic exigency).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ONGOING CONTRACT BARGAINING?

The Alden/Tribune deal involves entirely buying out the stock of other investors, a stock sale, so the new owner will be obliged to honor all existing contracts and continue bargaining with newly organized units. The current conditions of individual bargaining should be unaffected and continue from its existing position, including any tentative agreements and interim agreements achieved to date.

We all need to continue to fight for our rights in the workplace and preserve existing contracts and bargaining for the strongest new contracts possible. Bargaining sessions, along with the coordinated actions we need to win, will continue as planned.

WHAT CAN MEMBERS DO TO HELP?

From the moment that Alden announced their stake in Tribune Publishing, we have known that we would have to fight the kinds of ruinous cuts and extractive business practices with Tribune properties that they have with their other holdings. We knew it was likely that they would attempt a full takeover, or parlay their influence within the company to make decisions that would hurt our newsrooms and the long-term health of our company.

We have been engaged in contract fights with Tribune papers now for years, and have been fighting Alden in shops across the country for even longer. That fight continues in the boardroom, at the bargaining table, and in every city and town where Tribune (and Alden) own a newspaper.

This latest news is an opportunity to educate our members and our communities about how Alden conducts business, and the threat to the institutions where we work. Alden has everyone's attention now.

Participate in coordinated actions across Tribune. Join your steward networks. Mobilize with other members. Join a outreach to seek out local, civic-minded investors who are willing to make a sincere attempt to buy their community newspaper. Build your ties to the community. Contact your elected officials. Share information about this deal and the implications for local news in your community.