By:
March 9, 2022

A new pay equity study covering over a dozen unionized Tribune Publishing newsrooms identified gender and racial pay gaps of more than $4,000, Tribune unions announced Tuesday.

The study, which includes pay data from Tribune and results from a survey of union members, found that the median salary for Black women at unionized Tribune newsrooms in 2021 was 22.5% less than that of their white male colleagues.

The median pay for men was roughly $8,355 more than the median pay for women. White employees had a median pay that was $4,530 more than that of Hispanic or Latino employees, $7,740 more than that of Black employees and $7,510 more than that of Asian employees.

The unions also found that about 80% of full-time employees at Tribune in 2021 were white and that roughly a third of union members reported working unpaid overtime most weeks. Less than 6% of members said they have never worked unpaid overtime.

The study covers 384 full-time editorial employees across more than a dozen newsrooms, including The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, the Orlando Sentinel and the New York Daily News. The Chicago Tribune and newsrooms under Gary and Pioneer Press were the only unionized Tribune newsrooms that did not participate. Most of the data is from March 1, 2021, and does not cover the buyouts that followed Alden Global Capital’s acquisition of Tribune in May 2021.

In their report, the unions write that their findings show Tribune has not done enough to promote racial and gender equity in its newsrooms despite the company’s “nods to diversity.” Even as the company sent out emails following the 2020 racial reckoning and implemented diversity and inclusion trainings, it continued to pay people of color and women less than their white and male colleagues, the unions say.

“Tribune has for years allowed compensation disparities between white journalists and BIPOC journalists, as well as men and women in all of our workplaces across the country,” the report reads. “We believe that Tribune’s effort to recognize the viewpoints of all of its employees and community stakeholders is admirable, but it is an empty gesture when it continues to allow quantifiable inequalities to exist between its members.”

A spokesperson for Alden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The unions also examined working conditions, finding that many members reported being overworked and underpaid. Rounds of buyouts in recent years have reduced newsroom staff, forcing remaining employees to take on more work. Yet 88% of workers said they had not received a raise since Jan. 1, 2019.

“I went six-and-a-half years between pay increases,” wrote Baltimore Sun Guild member Pamela Wood in response to a survey question asking respondents to describe how their working conditions have changed over the years. “I cannot overstate how extremely demoralizing it was to be repeatedly turned down for even a modest raise when I continued to improve in my work and pick up new skills.”

The unions, which are organized by the NewsGuild, put together the study to identify bargaining goals. Average pay at newsrooms that have been bargaining for decades was “significantly higher” than the pay at recently unionized newsrooms that did not yet have contracts.

Several Tribune unions are in the middle of first contract negotiations and are about to start negotiating wages. In their report, the unions said they expect that the company will “bargain in good faith” and accept union proposals that address pay inequities.

They are also calling on Tribune to take “concrete and measurable steps” to address the lack of diversity in its newsrooms.

“These include tracking and reporting on the state of diversity at its workplaces, concerted efforts to recruit and hire diverse candidates and working with Guild members on issues of diversity and inclusion at each workplace,” they wrote.

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Angela Fu is a reporter for Poynter. She can be reached at afu@poynter.org or on Twitter @angelanfu.
Angela Fu

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