Point Park University Full-Time Faculty Union Unanimously Ratifies 3-year Collective Bargaining Agreement

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In an unanimous 72-0 vote, members of the Point Park full-time faculty union, affiliated with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh Local 38061, ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Point Park University.

Members of the faculty union — which gained a tentative agreement with university administration on Oct. 30 — officially ratified the union’s second CBA on Wednesday. The three-year deal includes minimum salary increases, progressive yearly salary increases for all faculty over the course of the agreement, new policies on leave for the Juneteenth federal holiday and other religious observances, and the addition of paid time off for parental leave.

“This is a good deal for Point Park University; it improves significant elements of our full-time faculty’s compensation and working conditions, and provides an important measure of stability to those who continue to labor mightily to help the institution adjust to the difficult circumstances resulting from COVID-19,” said full-time faculty union chair J. Dwight Hines.

“We now call upon the administration to rescind the austerity that was visited upon the University’s staff under the guise of the pandemic and to extend similar benefits, especially retirement and parental leave, to our colleagues.

The previous agreement expired on June 30, and, from June through October, the faculty union’s bargaining committee met 25 times with university administration to negotiate. NewsGuild-CWA, under which the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh is affiliated, submitted its endorsement of the tentative agreement on Monday. The Local’s Executive Committee unanimously passed a motion approving it on Tuesday. 

The new CBA, which goes into effect as of ratification and is in effect through June 30, 2024, provides full-time faculty members with pay increases retroactive to the start of the fall semester, and will see those raises paid out just in time for the holiday season. 

Key provisions of the three-year agreement include annual salary increases of 3.5%-4.25% percent; increases in the minimum salaries for all full-time faculty positions, with lecturers’ minimum salaries increasing by 12-15% this academic year; and four weeks of parental leave with 100% pay, with parents who give birth continuing to be eligible for short-term disability beyond four weeks if they are unable to work.

“The faculty union’s bargaining team worked very hard these last few months to reach this agreement,” said Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Lacretia Wimbley. “We came out with a CBA that is much better than anticipated. Faculty members gained progressive wage increases each year of the deal and for the first time, obtained paid parental leave. The team also fought to have Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday at the University.

“I say this often, but I couldn’t be more proud. Faculty union members, along with all the passionate students, allies and supporters, have truly exemplified what it means to stand in solidarity in the fight to be recognized, valued and respected by the administration. 

“This CBA proves what can happen when you stand together and refuse to relent. Hats off to the administration for working with us to accomplish this.”

In addition to the gains listed above, the newly ratified CBA gives faculty a greater role in shared governance at the university, as well as more input into health and safety matters.

The union’s bargaining committee consists of full-time faculty union Unit Chair Dwight Hines, faculty member Bob Ross, the Local’s Second Vice President Karen Dwyer, faculty member and former Faculty Union Delegate Ben Schonberger, faculty union Delegate Kirstin Hanley, faculty union Treasurer Bill Breslove, faculty member and former faculty union Secretary Barbara Barrow, attorney Steve Winslow of Jubelirer, Pass & Intrieri, P.C., PG Unit Chair Zack Tanner and Local President Lacretia Wimbley.

CONTACTS: DWIGHT HINES
UNIT CHAIR
(936)-615-4742
JDWIGHTHINES@GMAIL.COM

LACRETIA WIMBLEY
PRESIDENT
(412) 913-4083
CRETIA483@GMAIL.COM

Report on harassment out of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

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In September 2020, credible allegations of misconduct were shared with the International NewsGuild leadership about the former president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. Those allegations were shared with the local leadership and the president resigned his position and retired from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. An investigation was completed by the Communications Workers of America and NewsGuild and a report was released in December 2020.

In response to member requests, a consultant was hired in March 2021 to conduct a review and listening tour with current and former members at the Post-Gazette. The final report from the listening tour assesses and evaluates the culture of the local.

The report details both suggestions for moving forward and recounts the experiences of past and current members.

We hope Guild members take the time to read the report and reflect on what you would like to see moving forward. It is not an easy read — some of the experiences are difficult to hear about, as we are sure they were difficult to recount for those involved — but it is optimistic. 

Our members are committed to improving this union and it is clear through the recommendations outlined that change is possible.

These are the changes we have already begun to implement:

  • Any member of the International NewsGuild Executive Council can be contacted if you experience harassment or discrimination in our union and do not feel comfortable going to your local steward or leaders. Find a list of Executive Council members and their emails here. You can also submit complaints here.
  • The Executive Council will review a resolution submitted for consideration at the October Sector Conference that, after approval by delegates, will require yearly anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all local officers. 
  • Members of the Safer NewsGuild committee have proposed three changes to our parent union’s constitution for the October CWA Convention. The three amendments have been recommended by the Constitution Committee. These include adding “fighting harassment and discrimination” as a core objective of our union in Article III, clarifying that violating CWA’s Policy on Mutual Respect is a chargeable offense under Article XIX and clarifying that accusers can be victims of an offense, witnesses or someone who learns of an offense under Article XX
  • A new module will be added to the Guild’s steward training program to teach stewards how to handle and prevent harassment in our union.
  • Clear instructions on how to file a charge against another member for harassment will be provided to all members.

We would also like to hear from you about what is most important. You can find a Google form here to offer feedback on the report and let us know what recommendations you consider priorities. 

We’re also hosting a town hall for all NewsGuild members at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 22. Register here.

The recommendations in the report are extensive and some will take more time to implement than others. We are committed to moving swiftly to implement the suggestions and hope to work with members as we go. Crafting a code of conduct, for example, is something that we hope includes feedback from members. 

The report speaks for itself, but we wanted to add our thoughts as well: 

“I’m so proud of our members speaking up about the issues they’ve faced. It’s honestly hard to read, but it’s necessary if we want to foster a union that’s radically transparent and progressive. Our members are leading the way and we will back them up with new policies to improve the culture and provide support for every member.”  —Jon Schleuss, President, NewsGuild-CWA

“I am optimistic that the collective reflection on the allegations of harassment within the Pittsburgh local — along with the recommendations for improvement offered by our consultant —  will help us all find better processes to ensure that our union and our workplaces are equipped to deal with harassment concerns going forward.”  —Marian Needham, NewsGuild-CWA Executive Vice President

“In addition to leading the path forward, this report will aid the Guild in ensuring a safe space for all members, especially women. All members should feel that they will be heard, and that there is someone available to not only listen, but to take action and improve the policies of the Guild at both the local and national level. Guild leadership has now been tasked with strengthening the trust of members and providing a transparent plan to move forward, but it will also require the work of all members to create change.” —Alyssa Brown, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, former secretary and co-chair Human Rights Committee

“Hearing the sincere concerns of members in our Union has been troubling, yet very enlightening. It takes more strength to engage in honest transparency than it does to ignore the signs that something is wrong. No union is perfect, but it is our absolute duty to listen to Guild members and ensure we are cultivating an atmosphere of safety for women in our Local. We must be intentional about creating and maintaining ethical processes and procedures that are clear and concise for the well being of the members we serve. Healthy development doesn’t happen overnight, but it begins with truth and humility, and by recognizing there is always room to grow.

“I believe this is the start of a more secure, collaborative future for our Union. Our goal is to move forward better equipped to serve one another through the implementation of fresh ideas, and with respect and sensitivity for our fellow counterparts.” —Lacretia Wimbley, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President

“I’m grateful to our members who took the time to share their experiences and ideas, and am glad Rebecca was able to provide a forum for so many to express their thoughts. This hasn’t been an easy process but it was a necessary one – and it’s just the start.”  —Lauren Rosenblatt, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh Third Vice President, Co-chair Human Rights Committee

“It was a long process from the place we started to where we are today. Reading each of these testaments touches us all in our hearts. From the courage of those who spoke to our consultant and opened up about their own experiences, I find strength. Our union is made stronger when we give voice to those who remained silent about what they felt was wrong but could not share for fear of not being believed. I am proud of what has been done by our leadership to approach this problem directly and to work on solutions to avoid the now decades-long period of silence over serious wrongdoing. This is just the beginning.” —Grace Catania, Chicago NewsGuild Vice-President.

Read the report here.

In solidarity, 

The Listening Tour Task Force

Lacretia Wimbley, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president

Lauren Rosenblatt, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh third vice president, co-chair Human Rights Committee 

Alyssa Brown, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh former secretary, co-chair Human Rights Committee 

Grace Catania, Chicago NewsGuild vice president, former chairperson CWA National Women’s Committee

Jon Schleuss, NewsGuild-CWA president

Marian Needham, NewsGuild-CWA executive vice president

Join the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh for a community town hall forum and workshop

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The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh invites the community to participate in a virtual town hall forum and workshop on Wednesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. 

Attendees will hear from guild leadership as well as columnist Tony Norman, reporter/editor Sara Bauknecht, and sports reporter Nubyjas Wilborn about the state of the Post-Gazette and why the union is crucial to the direction and future of the centuries-old community institution.

In addition to hearing from guild members, readers and community attendees will participate in breakout rooms and in-depth discussions with guild members on what the unionized workers at the Post-Gazette, a critical asset to the community, can do to work toward a secure future for the newspaper that Pittsburgh relies on for holding leaders accountable, to bringing to light issues in our region.

Newspaper Guild members at the Post-Gazette have been without a contract since 2017 despite continued efforts on the union’s behalf to come to a fair and equitable agreement with company owners. The Post-Gazette and the Block family, however, have hired a union-busting Tennessee law firm, King & Ballow, to delay and deny progress on a new contract, have refused to negotiate on a fair contract in good faith, and have illegally imposed harsh and unnecessary cuts to employee pay and benefits.

In the past three years alone, the newsroom staff won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, several guild members were finalists for another Pulitzer for their series on sexual abuse in the Plain community, and staff members have won dozens of other awards. Meanwhile, the size of the staff has continued to shrink as talented journalists have left the newspaper and, in many cases, Pittsburgh.

Join the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. as we discuss these issues and work together with our community to ensure a strong future for the Post-Gazette. Registration will be open until the beginning of the forum.

Newspaper Guild speaks out against Post-Gazette’s latest attempt to shrink newsroom

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The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh stands firmly against the latest attempt by Block Communications Inc. (BCI) to further shrink the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PG) newsroom.

In its latest attempt to slash newsroom numbers, BCI recently introduced its “Voluntary Separation Agreement”, also known as a buyout package, with a stated goal of reducing the number of Guild positions in the newsroom by 19. The reason, according to the company, isn’t economic or financial, but merely because the company feels it “can operate with fewer” workers.  

Although buyouts are voluntary, and the Guild does not oppose voluntary separation, this decision and reasoning provided by the company appears counterintuitive during a time when at least a third of union members have left the PG in the last two years, and those who remain are already stretched thin due to the loss in manpower, according to Guild President Lacretia Wimbley.

In spring 2020, BCI offered an identical buyout package with a stated goal of eliminating 24 Guild positions from the PG newsroom, and ultimately accepted the 14 individuals who applied for the buyout package. An additional 19 workers exiting the newsroom would be devastating to the newspaper that readers in the Pittsburgh area rely on to stay informed.

“Buyouts in general are one thing, but to offer a second round of buyouts less than one year after the last round was offered is very concerning,” Ms. Wimbley said. “The fact that the company said it has made this decision, essentially, just because they can, is absolutely outrageous.

“Our community deserves so much better than this. Pittsburgh deserves quality journalism, but that is being hindered by such decisions being made by BCI.”

The Guild does not view this buyout package in a vacuum. On July 27, 2020, after bargaining in bad faith for over three years, BCI illegally declared an impasse in contract negotiations and unilaterally imposing working conditions on the Guild. These illegally imposed terms destroyed years of bargained for protections designed to protect Guild members in the event of layoffs.

In addition the company has:

  • Denied collective raises for 15 years
  • Illegally slashed health care benefits and astronomically driven up insurance costs
  • Created a hostile work environment, forcing members to leave the PG for other jobs
  • Consistently shown intolerance on race issues, including blocking the coverage by a Black reporter of stories related to Black Lives Matter protests
  • Paid millions of dollars to the Nashville, Tenn. union-busting law firm King & Ballow and now wants to reduce those employees that form the backbone of the enterprise
  • Eliminated seniority benefits 

While BCI hasn’t moved to layoffs, in their own buyout package language distributed to Guild members they state: “In the event enough eligible employees do not choose to voluntarily resign their employment, additional staff reductions may be necessary.”

The Post-Gazette is a community asset, and the Newspaper Guild wants to preserve it. The Guild believes that BCI needs to rescind the illegally imposed working conditions and come to an agreement on a fair contract that respects the union workers who make the Post-Gazette. We all deserve a local newspaper that invests in our community and empowers inclusive journalism that reflects our region.

CONTACT: LACRETIA WIMBLEY
PRESIDENT
CRETIA483@GMAIL.COM

Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh launches interview series to assess internal culture

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The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, along with our parent union The NewsGuild-CWA, is launching an interview series to assess and evaluate the culture of our local’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette unit and identify areas of improvement inside the newsroom. 

The assessment is in response to an investigation by the Communications Workers of America that was prompted by allegations last September that former local president Michael Fuoco violated an internal policy of respect. The CWA’s mutual respect policy, which every member is expected to adhere, prohibits harassment and discrimination. 

The situation brought attention to areas of concern within the Guild at the local and national level, including concerns that people did not feel comfortable reporting harassment or misconduct, did not feel there were proper procedures in place to respond to and act on these types of reports and did not feel protected by the very body put in place to protect them.

The Guild does not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind and leadership at all levels is committed to making the necessary changes needed to address these concerns.

Guild leadership was stunned by the allegations against Fuoco that gave rise to the internal CWA investigation as well as those which spurred a Dec. 6, 2020, article in The New York Times. In light of the CWA investigation, Guild leaders at the local level felt it was imperative to assess the culture of our own local, especially since none of these allegations were brought to our executive committee.

National leaders and our local’s Human Rights Committee have spent the last several months setting up an assessment process that will help us create a path forward. It aims to both look back at what happened and look forward at what we can and should do differently to cultivate an atmosphere of safety.

Rebecca Feaster, a former journalist who has experience developing and delivering bias, cultural awareness and anti-sexual harassment training programs will conduct the assessment over the next several weeks. 

She has more than 25 years of experience in executive coaching, curriculum development, facilitation and consulting services. Feaster has worked as a journalist covering issues of bias, inequality and sexual harassment and has delivered diversity and inclusion-based training and consulting with the Virgina State Police, the City of Rockville, Maryland and The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

TNG lawyer Barbara Camens recommended Feaster for this role. 

Feaster will interview former and current members with a pre-set list of questions that will prompt interviewees to share their experiences and shed light on the types of processes they feel should be put in place.

All the interviews will be anonymous.

Following the interviews, Feaster will release a public report that details what she has learned while keeping the identities of all interviewees anonymous. Based on members’ feedback, she will make a set of suggestions for how the Guild should improve its culture and its procedures moving forward. Those suggestions will be tailored to the Pittsburgh local but can act as a framework for other parts of the Guild looking to update their own policies and procedures.

This has been a monthslong process and Guild leadership is happy to see it coming to fruition.

“I strongly urge all Guild members to participate in this assessment,” said Guild President Lacretia Wimbley. “This is such a necessary step, and with the help of TNG, your Guild leaders decided to hire a third-party consultant to hear your accounts and concerns regarding the culture of our Guild. The only way we gain clarity and begin to heal is by being open and honest in this process. I implore everyone to participate and share.”

“This has been a learning process for all of us and we still have a lot of work to do,” NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss said. “Every one of us must be dedicated to creating a safe union for all of our members. I encourage folks to participate so we can improve our culture and make sure our union is safe for every member.” 

Schleuss first heard credible allegations against Fuoco last September when he received a call from a woman regarding misconduct by Fuoco. The next day, he contacted local Guild leadership and briefed members on the nature and gravity of the allegations. Fuoco resigned from the Guild that evening and later retired from the Post-Gazette.

This assessment will build off the initial investigation from CWA, which was opened in September and closed in December, and have a forward-looking approach that focuses on what the Guild can do differently to better protect members.

In the end, we hope it results in new policies, procedures and systems that will enable members to come forward with concerns about harassment and misconduct and enable the Guild to take action immediately. We hope it fosters a culture where members know how to identify and prevent harassment, where survivors feel protected and where leadership is held accountable.

The assessment should conclude sometime this summer. Armed with feedback and suggestions, the Pittsburgh local is committed to creating an environment where members feel safe and protected. We are the first line of defense for our members not only when it comes to management and contract negotiations; we are ready to make the necessary changes to act as a more effective line of defense for protection against harassment, discrimination and misconduct against any members.

We are eager to get started. 

In solidarity,
The executive committee of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh
Alyssa Brown, Lauren Rosenblatt, Lacretia Wimbley, Zack Tanner, Jonathan Silver, Ed Blazina, Melissa Tkach, Ashley Murray, Patti Sabatini, Tyler Dague and Dan Gigler  

For questions or media requests, please email pghguild@gmail.com with a subject line “Listening Series”.

Lacretia Wimbley elected as Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president

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After a failed special election in December, Lacretia Wimbley, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, has been declared President of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

The special election was required after former guild president Michael Fuoco resigned in September following reports of sexual harassment allegations against him. Guild first vice-president Ed Blazina filled the role of interim president, per the local’s bylaws.

In an initial election on Nov. 17, Wimbley defeated second vice-president Melissa Tkach by a 55-52 vote and was seated as president for six days before the election committee discovered two irregularities in the conduct of the mail-in ballot election and sought insight on how to proceed. Blazina then returned to the role as interim president. After consulting with NewsGuild-CWA officials, the election committee decided to hold a new election.

Procedural missteps included a violation of the U.S. Department of Labor rules that require ballots for local union officer elections to be sent to a secure post office box. Secondly, 33 of 107 total votes arrived in outer envelopes that lacked a voter’s name, signature or a return address. U.S. DOL rules require that such votes cannot be counted.

Wimbley was once again declared guild president, uncontested, after the two other nominees — Tkach and Post-Gazette reporter and guild member Andrew Goldstein — had declined their nominations. 

Wimbley will fill out the remainder of the 2020-21 term, which runs through Oct. 31, 2021. 

A native of Jackson, Miss., and graduate of Mississippi State University, Wimbley has been with the Post-Gazette since 2016. In that time, she edited local and national stories and designed print pages as an intern on the copy desk, before eventually becoming a full-time reporter where she currently works in breaking news.

“During my time here in Pittsburgh, I’ve observed from several angles the heroic efforts made by our TNG-CWA Local 38061 leaders as they have advocated for and fought to protect members in contract negotiations, on discrimination fronts and in other disputes,” Wimbley said.

“It has been nearly four years since our members had a contract. This is ridiculous, because there’s no reason the company shouldn’t be willing to negotiate in good faith with us. The legacy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is truly hanging in the balance.”

The election to fill the vacant seat came at a time of labor unrest at the Post-Gazette, and as the unionized full-time faculty members at Point Park University enter the last semester under their existing collective bargaining agreement.

“We are in such a critical time in our history,” Wimbley said. “I am relieved to put election woes behind us so we can all move forward. As journalists dedicated to our community, we must maintain our dignity and do so with grace in this battle, although not without a fire that signifies our worth.”

In August, Guild members authorized a strike against the Post-Gazette with 74% approval after the Post-Gazette and its out-of-town, union-busting law firm, King & Ballow, illegally and unilaterally imposed working conditions onto the Newspaper Guild that eliminated major parts of the previous contract. The strike authorization vote was tied to unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board based on bad-faith bargaining, unlawful declaration of an impasse and the unilateral imposition of working conditions.

Since then, Guild members have taken part in several mobilizing actions to build support as they fight to get back to the negotiating table and reach the goal of a fair and equitable contract with the company.

This fight centers around three major pillars: Respecting union journalists, strengthening local news in our region, and creating an inclusive newsroom that reflects that community that Guild journalists represent.

Full-time faculty at Point Park University started working under their first collective bargaining agreement in 2017 after years of court battles and negotiations in their initial organizing, and will be looking to begin bargaining with the university for their next contract in the coming months.

TOLEDO AND PITTSBURGH NEWSGUILD LOCALS HOLD JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE IN RESPONSE TO MANIPULATED BLADE COVERAGE

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We have known for years that publisher John Block’s politics are far-right leaning and he has repeatedly tried to slant news coverage to paint Trump, the presidential candidate The Blade and Post-Gazette endorsed under Block’s guidance, in a more positive light.

On Wednesday, Blade Executive Editor Kurt Franck issued an edict to all Blade web staff saying they could not refer to those rioting in Washington as “Trump supporters,” despite the event being Donald Trump-branded, and one the president appeared at and encouraged.

Blade newsroom managers inserted the qualifiers “a majority,” “mostly,” and “some” in front of references to Trump supporters, both in wire copy, wire photos, and a story written by a Blade reporter. Doing so waters down the truth of what happened on Wednesday and is a disservice to our readers. They are also done in a political climate where some are attempting to create misinformation about who was responsible for, and participated in, Wednesday’s chaos.

These actions follow years of blatant moves by the Blocks to push their political views into the newspapers that the communities of Toledo and Pittsburgh depend on for fair and accurate reporting. 

In January 2018, The Blade and Post-Gazette co-published the wildly controversial “Reason as Racism” editorial that was called, among other things, “a sorry pastiche of whitewashing drivel.” The author of the editorial, Keith Burris, was promoted a year later to executive editor of the Post-Gazette.

During the protests that arose after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Post-Gazette management barred a Black reporter, Alexis Johnson, from covering anything related to the protests, citing bias because of a tweet about property damage at a county-music concert. Johnson currently has a pending discrimination lawsuit against the paper.

After tweeting support for Johnson, Post-Gazette reporters were also barred by management from covering protests. On the night of June 5, PG management deleted two published articles by reporters Ashley Murray and Lauren Lee from post-gazette.com and the next morning replaced them with stripped down copy, without bylines.

Throughout all of this, the NewsGuild locals that represent the workers of The Blade and Post-Gazette have been the last line of defense for the editorial integrity of the newspapers. When the unions saw the wife of Block Communications chairman Allan Block, Susan Allan Block, spread lies and conspiracy theories on social media regarding the presidential election, they couldn’t stay silent.

The communities of Toledo and Pittsburgh deserve better.

CONTACTS: NOLAN ROSENKRANS
PRESIDENT, TOLEDO NEWSGUILD
NOLAN.ROSENKRANS@GMAIL.COM

ASHLEY MURRAY
UNIT SECRETARY, NEWSPAPER GUILD OF PITTSBURGH
ASHLEYNICOLEMURRAY@GMAIL.COM

No place for harassment in our union: Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh responds to New York Times report

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With the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette once again finding itself in the national spotlight, this time for a recent New York Times story revealing new information about the allegations of sexual misconduct by this local’s former president, we feel it is important to be transparent, to correct the record and to emphasize our commitment to protecting our members. 

It was difficult, distressing and painful to read the allegations in The New York Times. The report detailed allegations of unacceptable conduct in a union whose fundamental purpose is to protect its members. It now falls on us, the current iteration of the executive committee, to work internally and with our members to find a path forward and take corrective action.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and the members of the executive committee do not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind. This union is in place to guarantee a safe and fair work environment. The Guild has time and again been the first line of defense for Post-Gazette employees, including fighting for members’ overtime pay, short-term disability and FMLA rights, the right for a nursing room for mothers, and defending members in disputes with PG executives and intervening in situations with hostile supervisors. We are committed to upholding those values and to take the necessary steps to make sure members feel safe and protected.

When local leadership was first notified of allegations, we were very disturbed that this was the first we had heard of the claims and are scrutinizing why our systems – at the local and international level – were insufficient. Unions should always be a place where members can report such incidents and feel protected. 

As we work to repair and restore your confidence in our union, it is also important to set the record straight. There is no cover-up here.

The local executive committee took action immediately the day we heard from TNG President Jon Schleuss that he had received credible allegations against Mike Fuoco and that CWA had opened an investigation. 

On Sept. 25, 2020, TNG president Jon Schleuss received a call from a woman regarding allegations of misconduct by Fuoco against her. On Sept. 26, Schleuss contacted local Guild leadership and briefed members on the nature and gravity of the allegations. That evening, Fuoco resigned from the Guild and shortly after retired from the Post-Gazette. 

The investigation was turned over to CWA Chief of Staff Jody Calemine, who, along with Schleuss, briefed the executive committee earlier on Sept. 26. Schleuss informed local leadership Saturday, Dec. 5 that CWA has closed its investigation into the matter. You can read the final report, which details the investigation and the events leading to it, on newsguild.org.

Leaders at the local and national level were outraged and disgusted when we learned of the allegations against Fuoco, yet Ben Smith’s New York Times article all but insinuates that we were part of a deliberate longtime cover-up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To address a few specific areas of concern, none of the members of the current executive committee had previously been aware of allegations in the story that in 2011 Post-Gazette management had suspended Fuoco for a week due to allegations of misconduct. Local leadership at the time, and now, does not have any specific information of the allegations against Fuoco that led to this action and is not aware of any records indicating the company disclosed that information to Guild leadership at the time. 

The current executive committee is, however, aware of a situation in 2000 involving an allegation against Fuoco that a third-party described at the time as sexual harassment but provided no details. The 20-year-old internal Guild file is incomplete for unknown reasons and leaves out crucial details about the incident.

The local plans to begin discussions with Human Resources at the Post-Gazette and Point Park University to consider steps all sides can take to create an open, welcoming environment for reporting any misconduct or improper behavior.

Additionally, interim president Ed Blazina has released this statement in regards to his own quotes in the story:

“I regret and apologize for my comment at the end of the New York Times story. I repeated a phrase the interviewer used in his question, and I recognize it was inappropriate. I have no tolerance for sexual harassment and my first move as acting president was to re-form a human rights committee empowered to address that issue.”

Moving forward, local leadership and Guild members are going to take part in training to learn how to identify and respond to accusations of harassment, discrimination or misconduct of any kind.

Long term, we will establish policies and create an environment so this never happens again. We are working to build a comprehensive framework that details how to respond to allegations of harassment or discrimination as well as establishing training opportunities to better understand how to prevent harassment and discriminiation in the union and the workplace. 

The executive committee would like members from both the Post-Gazette and Point Park units to be a part of these conversations, whether on the record or anonymously. To start, we would like to plan small group sessions to discuss with members what they feel is needed to improve the environment at the Post-Gazette and the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

This is part of an ongoing effort to ensure members’ perspectives and insights are heard and incorporated. This is a team effort; the executive committee is prepared and is eager to hear from you and listen to your ideas as we continue navigating the path forward.

In the meantime, please know that each member of the executive committee, as well as the human rights committee, is available to talk about any concerns and answer any questions as best we can. Members can also contact Schleuss, at guild@cwa-union.org, if they have allegations or information to report.

Once again, our movement has zero room for sexual harassment or discrimination. Union leaders should be held to a higher standard than the company; we are better than this. We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that victims of sexual harassment can safely come forward and to create a union and workplace where members feel heard, protected and safe.

In solidarity,

The Executive Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

NEWSPAPER GUILD OF PITTSBURGH DEFEATS PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE AGAIN IN FEDERAL HEALTH CARE CASE

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A federal judge ruled overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in its disputwith the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over the company refusing to pay increases in health care premiums during ongoing contract negotiations.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn J. 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 about 140 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. The Newspaper Guild estimates members are owed more than $70,000 in extra costs they were forced to pay since the company refused to pay increases for three years beginning in 2018.

“This is a tremendous victory, but it is one the Newspaper Guild expected because we have been successful at every level,” said Ed Blazina, acting president of Local 38061. “We hope this decision brings the Post-Gazette to its senses and causes it to pay legitimate costs to provide health care for the unionized members of its Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom staff rather than pay millions to a union-busting Tennessee law firm on a losing legal issue.

“So far, they have been more willing to pay an out-of-town lawyer only interested in padding his firm’s pockets rather than investing in the union members who make the Post-Gazette.”

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 fruitless effort by the Post-Gazette to hurt its dedicated employees,” Blazina said. “Our unionized newsroom continues to produce awarding-winning journalism despite regular mistreatment by the company. This ruling is another indication of the Post-Gazette’s bad decisions in how it treats union employees.”

The Newspaper Guild’s contract with the Post-Gazette expired March 31, 2017 — more than 3 1/2 years ago — and the two parties met more than 20 times in fruitless negotiations where the company has been unwilling to move at all on any of its positions. Despite not awarding a general raise to union members in 14 years, the Post-Gazette’s contract proposals demanded additional concessions. In July, the company decided to quit bargaining, declared an impasse in contract negotiations and unilaterally imposed onerous working conditions that, among other things, forced members onto a more expensive healthcare plan partway through the year, eliminated a guaranteed work week, gave managers free rein to do union work, rejected daily overtime, removed the right to demand arbitration of disputes, and allowed the company to lay off employees without regard to seniority.

The Newspaper Guild has filed claims with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the company acted illegally by declaring an impasse and unlawfully imposed conditions. In August, Newspaper Guild members overwhelmingly authorized a strike that was approved by the national NewsGuild. The Newspaper Guild is pushing the Post-Gazette to return to the bargaining table, but the union also is continuing preparations for a strike if that is unsuccessful.

“We don’t want to strike because Pittsburgh deserves quality local news coverage that only Newspaper Guild staff can provide, especially during this national health emergency,” Blazina said. “But unless the Post-Gazette changes its position, that’s where this situation is heading.”

CONTACTS: ED BLAZINA
ACTING PRESIDENT
412-559-2092

JOSEPH J. PASS
ATTORNEY
412-281-385

Human Rights Committee Letter to Post-Gazette Executive Editor Stan Wischnowski

Standard

Today the Newspaper Guild’s Human Rights Committee sent a letter to Post-Gazette executive editor, Stan Wischnowski, urging him to hire a person of an underrepresented population in the PG’s national search for a managing editor.

Discrimination and racism by the PG’s previous leadership directly resulted in the loss of talented Black reporters and others from across our newsroom who stood in solidarity with them.

Loss of reporters doesn’t only cause a gap in coverage of our community. Remaining staff members have experienced firsthand a lack of trust and confidence in the PG. We are urging Stan to do his part in helping us #ChangeTheReputation and restore our credibility.

Our hope is that with managers who appropriately represent our newsroom and community, our publication can better cover the issues that matter to our readers and to Pittsburgh. Now is the time for change. Diversity is not a talking point or an accessory. It is a necessity.

Stan,

Welcome to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on behalf of the newly formed Human Rights Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, a group of Guild members working to make sure every individual in this newsroom feels safe, protected and represented. This group, and the members of this newsroom, are committed to creating a workplace that does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.

As a way of introduction, this letter urges you to consider a diverse pool of candidates to fill the open managing editor position, and to continue to intentionally seek out diverse candidates to staff the newsroom. We urge you to increase the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Our newsroom has been woefully deficient in Black employees and other people of color for decades,and we have lost many of those employees in recent years due to unfair treatment and lack of respect.

Our newspaper has developed a reputation of being hostile to minorities and bypassing important stories on the current racial justice movement. Those actions have led to, among other things, the harassment of reporters and photographers at public events, sources pulling out of stories, and advertisers and retailers shunning the paper.

As the new executive editor, you have the opportunity to change that reputation, to begin repairing years of damage and to create a diverse, inclusive newsroom. The Post-Gazette must take the important step in hiring a managing editor who can provide new perspectives based on race, gender, sexuality and class. Considering candidates from a diverse background and improving racial diversity in our newsroom are matters of urgency.

In addition, the next managing editor should be someone to lead Post-Gazette staff to expand the PG’s coverage of the diverse neighborhoods and residents of our city, and to ensure that a variety of perspectives and voices are heard and included in our news coverage.

You have a powerful chance to make an impact at this paper — from increasing equity and inclusion, to resolving the ongoing labor dispute and fighting for fair working conditions.

The Human Rights Committee and Guild members hope you recognize the importance of bringing diverse candidates into the newsroom – starting from the top. Can we count on you to provide a clear statement that you are committed to finding a candidate with a diverse background and to reinvesting in reporters of color already working at the Post-Gazette?

Sincerely,

The Human Rights Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh