Teamsters try to leverage localism


A major part of Tribune will be owned by an employees under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) if Sam Zell's plan to take the company private gets regulatory sign-offs. However, the Teamsters Union, which will represent many of the 21K new "owners," is not thrilled about the lack of say employees will have in the running of the company under Zell. It took advantage of last week's FCC forum on media ownership in Portland ME to press its case for more say in the company.

The Teamster's argument: If Tribune wants to continue cross-ownership waivers, it should allow local employees who know their own market to have a say in corporate governance. "Although called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, employees will have few real ownership rights," said the Teamsters' Jim Hoffa said. "If given a chance, Tribune employee-owners could play a crucial role in enhancing localism and diversity for the benefit of the public served by the Tribune.

These 21K individuals – some of them Teamsters – spread across the country, live and work in the areas that Tribune's broadcast properties serve and could provide a meaningful and diverse perspective to Tribune's programming and operations that would be responsive to the concerns of the local communities. Such a perspective is particularly important, when the FCC is being asked to extend the Tribune's cross-media ownership waivers."