Pittsburgh Guild authorizes unfair labor practice strike at Post-Gazette

The newsroom workers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, voted on Monday to authorize an unfair labor practice strike against the company.

On Monday, the Guild sent a notice to Post-Gazette management to demand that the company end its illegally declared impasse to contract negotiations, lift the unilaterally imposed working conditions and reinstate the terms of the previous collectively bargained contract, and return to the contract bargaining table to reach a fair contract with the 101 journalists the Guild represents.

If the Post-Gazette fails to meet those demands, Guild journalists will commence a strike at noon Tuesday.

“The workers who produce the Post-Gazette are taking a stand against the hostile and illegal treatment at the hands of John and Allan Block,” said Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner. “We, the workers, are standing together today, ready to fight to win back our contract and work toward signing a new collective bargaining agreement that preserves the Post-Gazette for the Pittsburgh region.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has been in negotiations for a contract with PG management since 2017. The PG’s union-busting attorneys bargained in bad faith for 3½ years. On July 27, 2020, the PG unlawfully declared an impasse to negotiations, despite the Guild’s bargaining committee noting that negotiations were not even close to an impasse and that the Guild was willing to continue discussions to reach an agreement.

But despite that, the PG illegally and unilaterally imposed new working conditions on the journalists of the Newspaper Guild, cutting their wages, taking vacation time away from veteran workers, farming out their work to non-Guild workers and forcing them onto a health insurance plan that offers less coverage at a higher price.

The Newspaper Guild subsequently filed unfair labor practice charges against the Post-Gazette over these violations of their workers’ rights. Over five days in September and October, these unfair labor practice charges were argued by the National Labor Relations board in front of an administrative law judge. The PG newsroom workers are taking this action while anticipating a major victory coming out of this hearing.

The owners of the Post-Gazette, Block Communications Inc., led by twin brothers John and Allan Block, have spent millions of dollars to try to bust their workers’ unions rather than attempting to reach a fair contract with the writers, editors, photographers, artists, designers and other journalists whose hard work has provided the Pittsburgh community with award-winning journalism since the late 1700s.

If the Guild workers’ demands to restore their contract are not met, then journalists will strike, joining a picket line alongside their co-workers from the production, distribution and advertising unions, who are already out on their own unfair labor practice strike against the PG. The Blocks, as they did during negotiations with the Newspaper Guild, chose to bargain in bad faith with the production, distribution and advertising unions, and they chose to strip those workers of their health care plan rather than reach a deal.

“These journalists are just trying to do their jobs in service of the people of Pittsburgh,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. “It’s despicable for the Blocks to fight their own workers and disrespect their rights to have a union. They need to bargain in good faith now.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh calls on readers, advertisers, business and labor leaders, politicians and other members of the community to contact the publisher of the Post-Gazette, John Block, at johnrblock@theblade.com and impress upon him the importance of ending the labor strife at his newspaper by reaching a fair contract with the Guild.