Alden Global Capital founder Randall Smith recently sold one of his many Palm Beach mansions for $5.5 million, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. The $1.9 million profit on the sale – purchased in a mansion-buying binge that began in 2013, after Alden became majority owner of DFM – would cover an annual raise of more than $3,900 for the 487 Guild-represented employees at 12 DFM newspapers nationwide.
For Alden Global Capital, $160 million in profits is not enough. Management for Digital First Media, speaking for its corporate masters at the New York vulture fund, rejected a modified wage proposal Thursday by the unions that comprise the DFM Caucus during wage negotiations in Philadelphia.
Union representatives will press management to increase the pay of workers at Digital First Media newspapers nationwide when wage negotiations resume on October 11 in Philadelphia. The message will be simple: Our award-winning employees deserve their share of the massive profits that DFM is earning from their work. Most DFM employees only have received one raise in 10 years.
Top executives at the hedge fund that owns Digital First Media must have felt terrible that employees at the newspaper company weren’t getting any raises in 2017. So they did something about it. They gave themselves a raise.
DFM management came to a bargaining session empty-handed, telling a national coalition of NewsGuild representatives that the company’s hedge fund ownership intends to keep employee pay frozen companywide to help maintain its profits. Alden Global Capital, principal owner of Digital First Media, has earned worldwide notoriety for its ruthless staff cuts and double-digit profit margins. The ongoing damage to newsrooms across the country has triggered protests from New York to Denver to the Bay Area.
The North Bay newspaper’s Pulitzer – in the Breaking News category – continues an impressive run of journalism for newsrooms covered by the Pacific Media Workers Guild. The East Bay Times won a Pulitzer in 2016 for breaking news coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
Members of the Bay Area News Group newsroom staff, winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the deadly Ghost Ship Fire, publicly denounced their corporate owner’s business practices Thursday.
Negotiations for a 2018 wage re-opener covering 13 bargaining units will open soon as Digital First Media ordered a new wave of staff cuts throughout California and in suburban Philadelphia in January. In response, DFM workers are escalating their contract campaign against Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that owns DFM and that has been systematically stripping newspaper assets since 2012.
Guild executive officer Carl Hall has written to the management of Mexico City daily, La Jornada, protesting firings and union busting. After a short strike last June, the paper’s director, Tania Paulina Olmos, fired the leaders of its union. As of the date of the letter, nine officers and activists have been terminated, and they accuse Olmos of tearing up their union contract.
Let’s visit the DFM bosses. Invest in employees. Raise our pay. Now.