Statement by #HollywoodLabor, a subcommittee of the DSA-LA Labor Committee
On October 18th, 2017 the LA Weekly — a weekly free alternative paper that covered news, culture, and more in the city of Los Angeles — was sold to the newly formed company Semanal Media.
By November 29th, Brian Calle, the paper’s newly installed editor-in-chief of had fired 75% of the LA Weekly’s staff. The once proud union shop had been decimated, leaving behind only one full-time staff writer, art director, and copy chief. Adding insult to injury, the paper then tweeted out a call for "passionate Angelinos to share stories about their life and culture in L.A." Not only did they misspell “Angeleno,” but it was an obvious and shameless solicitation to exploit the free labor of contributors.
In the wake of these layoffs, the information we’ve learned about Calle and Semanal Media paints a disturbing picture of the LA Weekly’s future. Calle is a noted right wing idealogue and activist, having served as a vice president for the right-wing think tank the Claremont Institute. In his role as the opinions editor for the OC Register he was actively hostile to labor to a nearly compulsive degree, even taking the bold stance that NFL cheerleaders didn’t deserve to be classified as employees.*
But it is only in recent days that we have begun to learn the true identities of the men backing Calle. Surprising no one, the investors in Semanal Media are Republican capitalists with interests in real estate development, big marijuana, and the hotel industry. Even more galling is that many of them have deep ties to Orange County but not to Los Angeles. To paraphrase an historic and celebrated agitator… They don’t even go here.
In response to Semanal Media’s actions, the former workers of the LA Weekly have organized an action outside the Weekly’s offices on Friday, December 8th at 12 PM. #HollywoodLabor, a subcommittee of DSA-LA’s Labor Committee, is committed to standing in solidarity with these workers. As fellow workers in the media industry we refuse to stand idly by when unions are busted. We also take deep offense at the radical transformation of the LA Weekly into an organ for right wing reactionary propaganda. Lastly, we cannot be silent as the forces of capital continue their war on independent and left-leaning journalism.
Our presence and solidarity at this action is guided by our parent committee’s platform, specifically the following articles:
3. Show solidarity with workers in their fight for a better quality of life. This includes the international labor movement and working people across the world.
7. Promote worker class consciousness through both education and direct action.
As socialists we know that worker power comes solely through organizing. As the workers of the LA Weekly have organized themselves — first as a union, and now as a force opposing a right-wing power grab — our values demand we join them in the struggle. It is vital for workers in Los Angeles to know that DSA-LA stands with them, not just in words but in deeds as well. That is why we will be joining the former staffers of the LA Weekly on the line on Friday. We encourage all working people who can to join us.
*Denton, Jack "How The New Ownership At LA Weekly Played Itself" Pacific Standard — https://psmag.com/news/the-inside-story-of-how-la-weekly-played-itself