Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh members will be receiving over $100,000 in reimbursement money, plus 6% statutory interest, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after a years-long legal battle over the company’s refusal to pay contractually obligated health care coverage increases that commenced in 2018.
This reimbursement comes after a November 2021 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which upheld a December 2020 ruling from U.S. District Judge Marilyn J. Horan.
“Saying this is an incredible win for our members is an understatement,” said Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Lacretia Wimbley. “Post-Gazette parent company, Block Communications (BCI), has gotten away with disenfranchising us from our contractual rights for far too long — this decision by the Third Circuit is empowering and liberating.
“It’s sad and ridiculous that the company would rather spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting us. Now they have been forced to pay what they should have paid to begin with, and it has cost them much more than it would have to simply do the right thing. Many, many thanks to our longtime legal counsel Joe Pass and his firm, as well as our members and leaders, and all of our allies and supporters. Our union has been through so much the last several years due to egregious actions by BCI. Victory has never tasted so sweet, and this is only the beginning.”
Judge Horan’s ruling rejected all seven points the Post-Gazette raised when it appealed an arbitrator’s Dec. 30, 2019, ruling in favor of the Newspaper Guild. She ordered enforcement of the arbitrator’s order, which requires the Post-Gazette to reimburse members of the Newspaper Guild for higher deductible payments they incurred because the company’s refusal to pay insurance increases reduced the level of coverage for union members.
Judge Horan upheld U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan’s recommendation rejecting all seven of the Post-Gazette’s issues challenging an arbitrator’s award in favor of the Newspaper Guild on all issues. That included technical points such as missing the deadline to file an appeal and having no grounds to appeal an arbitrator’s decision, as well as the legal merits of the case because the Post-Gazette violated its contract with the Newspaper Guild by refusing to pay for health care increases during contract talks.
“This is a monumental victory for the journalists at the Post-Gazette. We are finally collecting money that the company tried to steal out of the worker’s pockets instead of doing what was right and preserving our collectively bargained benefits,” said Zack Tanner, Newspaper Guild Post-Gazette unit chair.
The healthcare issue is part of an on-going labor dispute between The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The union’s contract expired in March 2017 and the company unilaterally imposed conditions in August 2020, a move the union is challenging through an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board that claims the company engaged in bad-faith bargaining. Our goal is to get back to the bargaining table and secure a fair contract that respects the union journalists who make the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We all deserve a local newspaper that invests in our community and empowers inclusive journalism that reflects our city.
CONTACTS: LACRETIA WIMBLEY
POST-GAZETTE UNIT CHAIR