Labor groups are putting pressure on Oaktree Capital Group, the Tribune Co.’s largest shareholder, to prevent the possible sale of the Los Angeles Times to billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO plans a protest next week outside the downtown offices of Oaktree co-founder Bruce Karsh, who is also chairman of Tribune, which owns the Times. The group seeks to prevent a sale to Koch Industries Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the world. It cited the brothers’ efforts to weaken worker bargaining rights.
“It’s shocking that Oaktree Capital would even consider selling to the Koch brothers,” Maria Elena Durazo, who heads the local federation, said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday. “Oaktree manages billions of dollars in public employee pension money and the Kochs have been at the forefront of trying to destroy public employee unions and collective bargaining from Wisconsin to California.”
Mr. Karsh, the Koch brothers and Gary Weitman, a spokesman for Tribune, didn’t immediately respond to messages left after normal business hours Wednesday.
Oaktree Capital owns 18.2 million shares of Tribune, or about 23% of the outstanding shares as of Dec. 31, according to Bloomberg data. In April, the Kochs reportedly were weighing a bid for Tribune’s newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Orlando Sentinel.
The Los Angeles protest is scheduled for noon local time on May 14.
Charles and David Koch have an estimated net worth of about $45 billion. Their Americans for Prosperity spent $140 million in 2012 political races, urging voters to oppose President Barack Obama and supporting Senate candidates.