Union journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, on Thursday will mark five years since the expiration of their last collectively bargained contract, which was signed on October 14, 2014, and expired on March 31, 2017.
In order to commemorate the day, NewsGuild members will hold an “Unhappy Anniversary” action at 12 p.m. on North Shore Drive in front of the Post-Gazette newsroom. Members will then deliver an anniversary card to the newsroom that, among other things, lists the many accomplishments that PG journalists have achieved over the past five years, including a Pulitzer Prize and dozens of other national, state, and local awards.
In the five years since the contract expired, PG parent company Block Communications Inc. has spent millions of dollars fighting their own workers at the bargaining table and illegally and unilaterally slashing benefits. Those benefit cuts included increasing the cost of and reducing the coverage in health care, cutting vacation time for the most senior workers, and reducing jurisdiction and job security language. To top it all off, the journalists at the PG have not had a collective raise since 2006.
This reprehensible behavior culminated on July 27, 2020, when the PG illegally declared an impasse at bargaining and unilaterally imposed work rules onto journalists at the paper.
“It is hard to believe Block Communications has been so willing to spend millions on out-of-town, union-busting attorneys rather than its own loyal employees,” said Ed Blazina, the union’s interim president. “In that same five years, our members have continued to do exemplary work, including winning a Pulitzer Prize, and providing award-winning coverage during the pandemic. It’s sad that we are five years from the expiration of our last contract and the Post-Gazette has yet to show interest in negotiating a fair contract.”
NewsGuild members have pushed back, staging public actions and rallies and filing multiple unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board in an effort to get the PG to bargain in good faith to secure the future for workers and a strong newspaper for the Pittsburgh community.
“We hope that by highlighting the award-winning work of the journalists at the PG in the absurd amount of time that we’ve worked without a contract, we’re able to collectively show ownership that the workers of their paper deserve their fair share,” said Zack Tanner, Post-Gazette unit chair.
The Post-Gazette is a community asset that the Newspaper Guild wants to preserve, but reaching a fair agreement that benefits the award-winning journalists is paramount to maintaining quality journalism in Pittsburgh.