The National Labor Relations Board’s Pittsburgh office has issued a long-awaited complaint against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and its parent company, Block Communications, Inc., for bad-faith bargaining and other improper conduct in its contract talks with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.
The complaint, dated Wednesday, April 27, 2022, and filed by NLRB Regional Director Nancy Wilson, said the company “bargained with no intention of reaching agreement” by “insisting upon proposals that are predictably unacceptable to the union.” It orders the company to attend a hearing before an administrative law judge Sept. 12, 2022 to respond to the charges.
This once again proves what Newspaper Guild leadership has been saying for years, that the company has acted in bad faith against the workers that create its award winning product, and that they would rather spend millions of dollars on an out-of-state attorney rather than the journalists who report the news.
The Guild’s last contract with the company expired in March 2017 and unproductive contract bargaining continued until July 27, 2020, when the company declared an impasse to bargaining and unilaterally imposed working conditions that lowered wages, reduced benefits, and stripped away years of bargained protections for over 100 newsroom journalists represented by the Newspaper Guild. Since then, the Post-Gazette has assigned work normally done by union members to managers and freelance writers, has denied earned vacation time to the most senior members, and has hired new employees at positions and wages not agreed to in previous bargaining sessions with the Guild. These actions have led the Guild to file a series of grievances and unfair labor practice charges.
The company and Guild have negotiated a series of concessionary contracts in recent years and union members haven’t had an across-the-board raise since 2006.
“This complaint supports what we have been saying all along — the company has had no interest in reaching a new contract and has been out to break the union,” said Ed Blazina, the union’s acting president. “Now, it is time for the company to be held responsible for its illegal actions.”
In addition to bad-faith bargaining, the complaint says the company acted illegally by taking photographs and video of union members when they held rallies or demonstrations to express concern about the lack of progress in contract bargaining.
The complaint about bad-faith bargaining comes on the heels of a ruling late last year by a U.S. Circuit Court that the Post-Gazette and BCI illegally changed health care benefits during contract negotiations. As a result, the company had to pay members more than $100,000 plus interest to reimburse them for health-care costs that would have been covered under the previous insurance.
“Our great hope is that the company can see that the writing is on the wall and they should drop their outrageous attempts to break this union,” Blazina said. “Through all of this turmoil, our members have continued to do award-winning work, even winning a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Tree of Life shootings in Squirrel Hill. It’s time for this company to do the right thing and settle this labor dispute.”
Contact: Ed Blazina, 412-773-2242, firstname.lastname@example.org