Jon Schleuss is a Los Angeles Times journalist, college instructor and successful union organizer who grew up in rural south Arkansas.
One day in late 2016, a Times colleague joked to Jon that the newsroom should unionize. It was no laughing matter to Jon; a moment later, he said they should investigate how to do it. The hard work that followed led to an overwhelming victory for the NewsGuild at The Times, whose newsroom had never been unionized in its 135-year history.
The creative tactical moves and communication strategies that Jon helped plot and execute during the Times campaign were soon replicated in successful Guild drives across the country.
Jon’s roots as an activist date to his undergraduate years at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he organized student marches and served on the board of a nonprofit that advances LGBTQ rights. He also fell in love with journalism there.
Ten years ago, Jon became online editor at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The job taught him the importance of leadership and innovation in a changing industry. He managed a staff of journalists who uploaded stories and photos to several news websites, established the company’s social media accounts, promoted the use of blogging, and published breaking news online throughout the day. He redesigned the main website, developing it for everything from online video to live election results.
Jon later worked part-time as a reporter and weekend host at the local NPR station. In 2013, he moved to Los Angeles to join The Times as a data and graphics reporter. His award-winning journalism has included reports on disastrous wildfires, L.A. County’s shocking number of unclaimed bodies and lighter fare like an analysis of Girl Scout cookies.
In the Guild campaign, Jon and his colleagues used their journalism smarts and leadership skills to unite their co-workers, outmaneuver and defang the company’s anti-union efforts, expose pay inequities in the newsroom and take down corrupt Tronc executives. The new L.A. Times Guild is now negotiating one of the best first-time contracts in the industry’s history.
For the past three years, in addition to his Times and Guild duties, Jon has served as an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Southern California.
“He’s energetic, whip-smart and will be a great international guild president.”
— Maya Lau
Los Angeles Times
“He’s energetic, patient and a fantastic teacher, but above all I know he’s passionate about pushing journalism and journalists’ rights forward in innovative and exciting ways.”
— PRIYA KRISHNAKUMAR
LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Jon was instrumental in planning and executing what a long-time Guild organizer called the best campaign he had ever seen — a campaign that led the newsroom of the famously anti-union Los Angeles Times to overwhelmingly vote to join the News Guild.”
— BETTINA BOXALL
LOS ANGELES TIMES GUILD VICE-CHAIR