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Deadline Looms For Management to Recognize Chicago Tribune Union

A different kind of deadline loomed Tuesday night for the Chicago Tribune.

Workers at the newspaper have overwhelmingly supported organizing as a union.

Now the question: will management accept their demands?

More than 85 percent of the staff signed union authorization cards. They're hoping the Tribune will recognize that support, but if not they're prepared to turn to the National Labor Relations Board for the next steps.

An email was sent to the Tribune editor in chief and publisher Bruce Dold -- letting him know 85 percent support the Chicago Tribune guild and the union wants an answer if the tribune will recognize the union by 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"It's a diverse group of people that represents pretty much every facet and editorial department of the newsroom," Charlie Johnson, a Tribune employee said.

"It's time that we started standing up for fair wages and regular raises, and for fair health benefits," Mary Wisniewski, a reporter, said. "We love this work but we want to be compensated fairly for it."

The tribune is owned by tronc -- last month its chairman Michael Ferro resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behavior and he's sold his stake in tronc. Management distrust is one of the key factors in the union vote.

"There was the bankruptcy, we were spun off from our television assets," Johnson said. "Our building was essentially sold out from under us, we ere saddled with a lot of debt."

Dold said the union request is being reviewed and he spoke of "working together as an organization toward our common goal as a leading source for news."

Nearly 300 employees would be part of the Tribune union -- and while the paper has traditionally been anti-union, the staff sees an urgency for their fight.

"People need to realize that what we do is important," Wisniewski said. "We're not people making things up in our basement. We're doing good, important professional work and we need real news and real investigations to support our Democracy."

If the Tribune does not recognize the union, the guild says it will file the signature cards it received with the NLRB and begin the process of formally recognizing their rights.

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