Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh calls off successful four-day byline strike

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Beginning at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, the four-day byline strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by the 150 members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh will cease after successfully alerting the public of contentious contract talks that threaten the operation of the 231-year-old Pittsburgh institution.

That means the names of Guild-represented PG reporters, photographers, columnists and graphic artists will return to the paper, website and other PG platforms as on Monday.  While the Guild-requested byline strike is ending, it is possible some members may decide to continue withholding their bylines, which is their contractual right.  

“The byline strike was but one mobilization effort in our arsenal.  We are prepared to use others. We hope we don’t have to do so,” said Michael A. Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and a PG enterprise reporter. “We will not–we cannot–approve another concessionary contract offered by a highly profitable parent company.”

There was 100 percent participation by Guild members–all who have bylines withheld them and those who toil behind the scenes such and copy and web editors wore stickers and buttons in the newsroom reading “I Support the Byline Strike.”  

During the four day protest, a total of 226 bylines–an average of more than 56 a day–were withheld from stories, photographs, columns and graphics that appeared in the print edition. Even more were withheld on the PG website, which typically carries much more content than is published in the newspaper. It is believed the last byline strike at the PG was in the early 1980s.

Since the Guild contract expired March 31, 2017, and during the byline strike which is ending, PG journalists continued to do their jobs with the talent, passion and professionalism they bring to their jobs 365 days a year.  The byline strike starkly illustrated the daily contribution their expertise provides the Post-Gazette and is an exclamation point on the Guild mantra “No PG Without Me.”

Guild members are annually cited for their journalistic excellence with national, state and regional awards and the Post-Gazette was named the 2017 Newspaper of the Year in Pennsylvania.

The byline strike’s success precipitated its end, Fuoco said.

“We always planned for it to last only as long was necessary for us to get the word out that the company’s concessionary proposal is completely unacceptable after 12 years and counting of pay, benefit and staffing cuts. In 2018, Guild members earn 10 percent less than they did in 2006.  Any reasonable person can see that this cannot continue.

“With the massive national and regional publicity, we are confident that most people now know the fate of the Post-Gazette lies in the hands of parent company Block Communications Inc. of Toledo, Ohio.  

“We have received overwhelming support in our quest for economic justice from all sections of the Pittsburgh community–public, political, religious, unionized, philanthropic.  Along with them, we call upon the company to do the right thing: Fire its union-busting Nashville law firm, present us with a reasonable proposal and provide us with a bargaining environment of respect and dignity that our talent deserves.”

Should BCI not do so, there will be more mobilizations of increased intensity and escalation, he said.

“We fear the fate of the Post-Gazette hangs in the balance should BCI not become reasonable,” Fuoco said. “We love the Post-Gazette and want it to survive and thrive.  For more than two centuries the PG has been ingrained in the fabric of daily life in the Pittsburgh community.  And democracy depends upon journalism. BCI must recognize its civic responsibility and public trust by providing its talented staff with wages and benefits commensurate with what they provide.”

During the 12 years Guild members have earned 10 percent less than in 2006, pensions have been frozen, benefits have been cut; health-care coverage has decreased.  Yet the cost of everything — including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — has increased dramatically. Still, over the last 10 months, in some of the most contentious contract talks at the paper in history, the company is demanding even more givebacks.

It is true that the Post-Gazette, like most newspapers in the country, loses money. But its highly profitable parent company BCI is able to write off those losses and regularly earns more than $100 million in profits annually.  While the Guild typically keeps negotiations confidential, BCI’s refusal to move off its draconian proposal has forced us to go public.

Among the many lowlights in BCI’s proposal:

• Allowing the company the unilateral right to determine the number of hours in a Guild member’s work week, meaning it could be none (all members are currently guaranteed 40 hours a week).
• The unfettered right to use freelancers, managers and third-party vendors to perform work over which Guild members have had jurisdiction for more than 80 years.
• The ability to lay off anyone for any reason at any time and out of seniority (currently, there needs to be an economic reason; the company must meet with the Guild to try to find an alternative; and any layoffs must be by seniority in work categories).
• The ability to unilaterally change health-care benefits at any time (currently, any changes must be negotiated).

Moreover, the Guild recently filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the company because, through its union-busting law firm King & Ballow of Nashville, Tenn., it refused to pay a 5 percent increase in the health care premium for 2018, thereby unilaterally cutting our benefits.  Companies involved in bargaining are required by federal law to maintain the same level of wages and benefits of expired contracts.  It is believed to be the first ULP the Guild has ever filed against the PG but given its disregard for the rule of law, there was no choice but to do so.

“We want to report the news, not make it,” Fuoco said. “It’s up to BCI to determine where we go from here.  We want a contract that’s fair and equitable to both sides.  We’d like them to show they desire the same.”

Michael A. Fuoco
President, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh
Enterprise Reporter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
412-576-4665

Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh’s response to the Post-Gazette’s “Reason as Racism” editorial

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block, the man behind the reprehensible editorial “Reason as Racism” that ran on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, has rejected the attached letter to the editor from 150 PG newsroom employees represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. Since you will not be able to read it in the Post-Gazette, where it belongs, we offer it to you here.

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To the Editor:

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union representing 150 reporters, photographers, copy editors, artists and other editorial employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is collectively appalled and crestfallen by the repugnant editorial “Reason as Racism.” As a matter of course, the Guild does not weigh in on editorial positions, but this piece is so extraordinary in its mindless, sycophantic embrace of racist values and outright bigotry espoused by this country’s President that we would be morally, journalistically, and humanly remiss not to speak out against it.

This editorial is a blight on the 231 years of service the Post-Gazette has provided its readers. Over its long life, it has railed against racism and supported civil rights and justice for all. Given this history, the shameful and unconscionable editorial that ran on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, of all days, is an abomination that cannot go without condemnation from journalists committed to fairness, accuracy and decency. To be clear, no member of the Newspaper Guild had anything to do with that editorial and we stand together in solidarity against the bigotry, hatred and divisiveness it engenders.

Our hope is that, like us, readers of the Post-Gazette will decry this lapse in promoting common decency, equal opportunity and justice across our great land and the world. This editorial and its sentiments solely represent the opinions of the Block family, owners of the Post-Gazette, and not their loyal employees who use our talents to fight against what this editorial stands for.

Sincerely,
The Executive Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

Michael A. Fuoco
Jonathan D. Silver
Ed Blazina
Joe Smydo
Melissa Tkach
Patti Sabatini
Dan Gigler
Zack Tanner
Alyssa Brown
Courtney Linder
Erin Hebert

Demands of Point Park University faculty union reasonable, fair

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Written By Margaret Davis

f_16_opinionsSince 2004, Point Park University has been at war with its own professors in a legal battle over the creation of a new union contract. Citing the 1980 Supreme Court case National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) v. Yeshiva University, the university stalled negotiations because it considered the teaching staff to be “managerial employees” who were therefore “ineligible for unionization.”

In 2015, after 12 years, Point Park finally dropped its appeals and agreed to open talks with the faculty, who are represented by the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America. However, 140 of our full-time professors are still working without a contract, and progress has been very, very slow.

I was 10 years old when the legal battle began. Twelve years is a long time.

To read more click here!

No union contract yet for full-time faculty at Point Park

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Michael A. Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, said contract negotiations with representatives from the university have moved slower than he expected.

“The progress has been glacial,” Fuoco said. “We are starting from a blank piece of paper, but our view is that it should not be taking this long and that they’re doing a disservice to the faculty, which has shown them extraordinary patience and good will during these 11 years.”

Click here to read more!

2016 Sally Kalson scholarship winners

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roomSince 1996, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has awarded almost $60,000 to students preparing for careers in journalism through two scholarships, in the memory of our late vice president, columnist Sally Kalson, now valued at $2,500 each to undergraduates who plan careers in print journalism as reporters, copy editors, photographers, paginators or graphics designers. 

This money is raised through “Off the Record” a satirical production of the Newspaper Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists.  In addition to supporting the scholarship, the primary beneficiary of this effort is the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The winners are chosen by a volunteer committee of Guild members who score entries based on academic achievement, quality of journalism in the writing samples submitted, letters of recommendation, a personal essay.

In 2016, our winners are:

delaneyDelaney Hassell of Erie is a sophomore at Robert Morris University and news editor of RMU Sentry Media.

In that capacity, she is a writer, editor and manager of the news section.

In continuing coverage, she followed the selection process of college president Christopher B. Howard and was able to get interviews with key members of the selection committees.

As a sophomore, her short, busy career has continues to prepare her for a future in evolving journalism, with exposure in all areas of the field.

She is both an anchor and producer for the television production RMU-Live, and has reported for RMU-Radio in pre- and post-game sports coverage and has provided intermission reports for hockey Three Rivers Classic at the CONSOL Center

In 2014 she received the RMU Academic Media Center’s Newcomer Award and placed second for a multimedia story submitted to the Society for Collegiate Journalists.

Delaney is a member of the Western Pennsylvania Press Club and the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.  She’s joined here today by her parents Bill and Eileen Hassell.

kimmieToday we are also happy to recognize Kimberly Baston, a junior from Waynesburg University and executive editor of the Waynesburg Yellow Jacket.

In addition to reporting and writing for each edition, she manages a staff of 23

Kimberly is a student writer for the office of University Relations at Waynesburg and has worked as a stringer for the Greene County Messenger.

She is a three-time winner of the  Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Region 4, and has also been honored by the American Scholastic Press Association.

She has placed first for ongoing news coverage in competition for the Keystone Press Awards.

Kimberly is a graduate of Norwin High School and is here today with her parents Barb and Ray Baston.

Sally Kalson Journalism Scholarship

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The Sally Kalson

Journalism Scholarship

From The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh Local 38061 is offering two $2,500 scholarships in memory of our late vice president, columnist Sally Kalson, to undergraduates who plan careers in print journalism as reporters, copy editors, photographers, paginators or graphics designers. 

Submit: 

  • One-page, typed, personal statement outlining background and professional goals in journalism.
  • 2 published, single byline examples of your work, including newspapers, online stories, clippings, photographs, paginaton/layout, graphics or artwork.
  • For convenience in judging, online work must be provided in a printout of the web page, complete with web address and date of publication.
  • Most recent college transcript
  • Letter of recommendation from journalism or graphics arts professor
  • Resume

You must have completed at least three semesters and have at least one full semester to complete.

You must be from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington or Westmoreland counties or attend a college or university in those counties.

Download an application from: pghguild.com

Hurry! Applications must be received by March 4, 2016

Download the scholarship application form (right-click “Save as”).

Past scholarship winners

1996 Kathleen Scanlon and Beth Trapani
1997 Alex Lewin and Connie Mabin
1998 Rebecca Riddle and Stephanie Huszar
1999 Susan Seibel
2000 Jonathan Evans and Matthew Monaghan
2001 Elizabeth Bowen and April Johnston
2002 Jasmine Gehris and Alison Kepner
2003 Leslie Hoffman and Erin Pearson
2004 Amy Difiore and Megan Duncan
2005 Lauren L. Hough and Emily E. Leone
2006 Christina Marie Praskovich and Sarah Vaccarelli
2007 Brittany McCandless and Sarah Kaufman
2008 Rebecca Mack and Margaret J. Krauss
2009 Elyssa Goodman and Rossilynne Skena
2010 Jennifer Rizzi and Estelle S. Tran
2011 Dante Fuoco and Faith Cotter
2012 Carrie Blazina and Richelle Szypulski
2013 Jessica Tully and Josh Axelrod
2014 Nicholas Buzzelli and Connor Mulvaney
2015 — Kathleen Fennell and Leah Fleischel