New Youth Daily From ‘The Sun’ Sparks Guild Concerns

By: Joe Strupp

The Sun of Baltimore, which recently announced the closure of its Towson, Md., office, is planning to use the location to house its new daily youth paper, “b,” according to Baltimore City Paper — which also revealed a guild dispute involving the new non-union publication.

“B’s launch, scheduled for April 14, has the Newspaper Guild, the union representing the paper’s writers and reporters, asking questions,” City Paper also reported. “Newsroom sources and people who have applied for jobs at b say the publication is offering writers a salary of less than $30,000 — about half of what union-represented Sun reporters earn.”

City Paper quotes Sun spokeswoman Linda Yurche as saying, “Why would they want it to be unionized? There are more than 100 publications with which we will compete in the Baltimore area. One is unionized. I don’t know why you would assume that the default is that [b] would be unionized.”

Tanika White, a unit chair with the Guild’s Sun bargaining unit, told the weekly, “The thing that I would like to get across is we definitely think it’s better for the people who work at b to be in a union, whether that’s ours or some new union.”

Shortly after the City Paper story appeared, Timothy J. Thomas, the Sun’s vice president of business development, shot off a letter to the alternative weekly correcting some information in its story.

The letter stated that the “blanket description of b ‘offering writers salaries of less than $30,000’ is universally inaccurate. Individual salary offers are based on training, talent, experience and market forces.

“Second, your article also states that the $30,000 salary is ‘about half of what unionized Sun reporters earn.’ This is also inaccurate. According to the Guild contract with The Sun, the starting annual salary for a reporter is $27,612. To equate a starting salary of a new reporter at b with the average salary of veteran Sun reporters with decades of experience is extremely misleading”

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