Newsroom Unionizes As LA Times Publisher Faces Investigation Over Sex Harassment Allegations

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The National Labor Relations Board announced Friday that the newsroom had voted by a margin of 248 to 44 to unionize, the Times reported.

For the first time in the paper's 136-year history, newsroom employees at the Los Angeles Times will be represented by a union. In response, more than 180 newsroom employees signed a letter saying Levinsohn has "lost credibility as the leader of one of the country's top newspapers". Since then, Levinsohn has moved swiftly to establish his own team, hiring former Forbes Editor Lewis D'Vorkin as executive editor.

On Thursday, Tronc placed Levinsohn under investigation after an NPR report that he admitted under oath to ranking the looks of female colleagues and discussing whether a colleague worked as a stripper, among other incidents. Paid models mingled with participants as they downed drinks while the yacht made small loops in the Mediterranean Sea, according to three former Yahoo executives.

Ross Levinsohn "has voluntarily agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence, effective immediately", Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a message to employees Friday afternoon.

Los Angeles Times' parent company, Tronc, said Thursday that it had opened an investigation into past conduct of Times publisher Ross Levinsohn following a detailed report by National Public Radio.

Folkenflik said he conducted 26 interviews and reviewed court documents, among other things.

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Levinsohn was the Times' fifth publisher in as many years.

Veterans of the newspaper say they are deeply concerned. The union said it will seek better pay and benefits as well as "pay equity for women and people of color, greater diversity and better working conditions" for reporters, copy editors, graphic artists and photographers.

"This week, we became aware of allegations that Ross Levinsohn acted inappropriately", the company said.

During a second lawsuit in 2006, at a time when Levinsohn was a News Corp executive, Amber Tribble a video producer claimed her boss, who was a Levinsohn subordinate, had sexually harassed her.

The publishing magnate, hired in August to helm the newspaper by parent company Tronc, has been accused of rating employees according to hotness, aggressively kissing an employee at a business dinner and even hurling gay slurs at industry functions.

"We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what's occurred", Pulte said. "Once that review is complete, we will take swift and appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of our expectations". That turnover has contributed to rising discontent in the newsroom, which also saw jobs slashed and benefits cut as the Times struggled with declining advertising revenues and circulation in the face of online competition.

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