Long Beach Post Reporters Terminated Amid Unionization and Strike

In a dramatic turn of events, the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal underwent significant downsizing on Friday, March 22, with approximately two-thirds of their staff being let go. This move comes mere days after employees initiated steps towards unionizing.

The Long Beach Media Guild faced a grim Friday as at least 60% of its bargaining unit received layoff notices shortly after newsroom employees initiated efforts to unionize and staged a strike to protest anticipated cuts. The unit, vying for voluntary recognition from its employer, the Long Beach Journalism Initiative, disclosed that nine members were laid off, while three others continue their strike. Sources close to the nonprofit revealed that the entire Long Beach Post staff plummeted from 17 to just eight employees.

Chief Executive Melissa Evans and the board of directors of the Long Beach Journalism Initiative, the parent nonprofit overseeing the Long Beach Post and the Long Beach Business Journal, attributed the layoffs to financial constraints following the transition from corporate to nonprofit ownership four months prior.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Evans emphasized the substantial uncertainty and risk associated with the nonprofit shift, citing the heightened reliance on donors and grants. However, the Long Beach Media Guild alleged that the terminated staffers were not provided with severance pay, a claim Evans did not address in response to The Times’ inquiry.

The Long Beach Media Guild, which formally sought voluntary recognition last Wednesday, condemned Friday’s layoffs as retaliatory and announced plans to file an unfair labor practice claim against the Long Beach Journalism Initiative. Striking employees are advocating for workplace protections, wage hikes, comprehensive health benefits, and updated diversity, equity, and inclusion standards for the publications and their coverage.

Despite ongoing efforts by the Media Guild of the West to arrange a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, uncertainty looms over the process following the mass layoffs, which effectively removed the majority of eligible voters from the bargaining unit.

Evans and the Long Beach Journalism Initiative board expressed regret over the layoffs, stressing that the impacted individuals were valued members of the team. However, they underscored their commitment to ensuring the survival of the Long Beach Post and its mission amid a critical transition period. 

A statement provided by Long Beach Media Guild reads, 

“The Long Beach Media Guild agrees that running a nonprofit newsroom is financially challenging, which is why it’s important that as many reporters as possible, who have the credibility and institutional knowledge of our city, remain employed so the community continues to support our work. We disagree with our CEO’s assertion that “every measure” was taken to avoid these nine layoffs. There were no talks of pay reductions, furloughs, or other cost-saving measures before she gutted the newsroom this morning. We hold that Friday’s layoffs are directly connected to our pending union election and have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over Ms. Evans’ blatant union-busting tactics.”

The Long Beach Media group plans a strike Monday 8am-12pm in front of the Long Beach Post Office at 100 W Ocean, Long Beach. 

As this story unfolds, stay tuned for further updates on this developing situation.