Newspaper Guild Marks Seven Days of Byline Strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with 100% Participation

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The newsroom staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today marked seven days of its indefinite byline strike in protest of the severe mistreatment of union members and managers by PG Executive Editor Keith Burris, Publisher John Robinson Block and his twin Allan Block, chairman of Toledo-based PG owner Block Communications Inc. (BCI).

Since Nov. 20, reporters, columnists, photographers and graphic artists represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh have withheld a total of 313 bylines and credit lines from the print and PGe digital editions of the newspaper — 100 percent participation. Countless more bylines have been absent from the PG’s website, mobile app and PGNewsSlide.

Page designers, web and copy desk personnel, librarians and clerks who do not have bylines are wearing “I Support the Byline Strike” buttons in the newsroom. Moreover, PG journalists are wearing “No Confidence” buttons and have placards reading the same on their desks to illustrate their unanimous vote last week of “no confidence” in Burris and the Blocks.

PG freelancers, who are not union members, have withheld their bylines in support. Additional backing has come from readers and unions from across the United States who likewise decry and are appalled by the hostile work environment created by the Blocks and Burris and the economic oppression of nearly 14 years without a raise and unilateral cuts to their health care. The Guild and other PG unions have been mired for nearly three years in fruitless negotiations for new contracts with BCl’s carpetbagging, anti-union attorney from Tennessee who is seeking additional cutbacks in wages and benefits from newspaper workers.

“We are unified and resolute in protest of the unprecedented, unconscionable atmosphere of fear, hostility and intimidation that Burris and the Blocks have created in the North Shore newsroom. And we stand united in our quest for economic justice,” said Michael A. Fuoco, a 35-year PG reporter and Guild president.

“In stark relief, this byline strike shows that we journalists are truly the Post-Gazette – not Burris, executive editor for only nine months, and the multimillionaire Blocks. There is no Post-Gazette without us. There will be no Post-Gazette without us.

“We will continue this fight for a non-hostile workplace and economic justice, even to the point of the most extreme measures.”

The last byline strike at the Post-Gazette was in January 2018 when the Guild prosecuted a four-day protest of what was then two years without a contract and the company’s decision for the second year to defy contracts and not pay premium increases for health-care coverage. Union presidents recently received letters indicating the company will not pay for increases in 2020, decreasing health-care benefits for the third straight year. Before January 2018, there had not previously been a byline strike at the paper since the 19803.

“The Blocks and Burris have no moral compass and a total lack of appreciation for the legacy of the Post-Gazette and the loyalty of talented journalists,” Fuoco said. “Their actions are shameful and despicable.”

They include:

  • The firing or forcing out of three beloved newsroom managers with combined service of nearly 100 years to the PG because they stood up to Burris’ dictatorial actions. Four other managers have left this year and one departure is pending.
  • Cultivating hurt and bewilderment among the staff through Burris’ belittling behavior toward individual Guild members. This has led to turmoil and uncertainty among the remaining staff and has contributed to a desperate exodus of 16 talented journalists from the 2019 Pulitzer Prize—winning newspaper over the last six months.
  • Retaliating against certain Guild members and leaders by reassigning those who have challenged him in any way to positions that adversely affect their lives and/or their work on behalf of the union.
  • Abusing and refusing to work cooperatively with or even speak to Guild leadership.
  • Triggering an unprecedented number of grievances and Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the Guild never before seen in the union’s 85 years at the PG.

The Guild is calling upon the public to express its outrage at the repulsive actions by emailing:

“We will continue to serve our community, even as the Blocks and Burris attempt to stand in the way of our commitment to our calling as journalists,” Fuoco said. “We hope and pray that the Blocks and Burris come to their senses before they permanently destroy an iconic newspaper whose roots go back to reporting on passage of the US. Constitution.”

Newspaper Guild begins byline strike today at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with 100% participation by members

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The newsroom staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh/CWA 38061, today began a byline strike in protest of the mistreatment of union members and managers by PG Executive Editor Keith Burris, Publisher John Robinson Block and his twin Allan Block,chairman of Toledo-based PG owner Block Communications Inc. (BCI). 

All 139 members of the Guild have signed pledges to withhold their bylines or credit lines on stories, photographs and graphics during the byline strike that will continue indefinitely. Those who do not have bylines — including assigning, web and copy editors, page designers, librarians and clerks — have pledged to wear buttons in the newsroom reading “I Support the Byline Strike.” 

While there is no print edition today, a total of 27 stories and 14 photographs produced by Newspaper Guild members ran without bylines in today’s PGe, the Post-Gazette’s digital newspaper. Innumerably more Guild produced stories, photographs and graphics are appearing on the Post-Gazette’s website, PG mobile app and PG NewsSlide without bylines and credit lines. 

The protest shows that Guild members stand together and will not abide the unconscionable atmosphere of fear, hostility and intimidation that Burris and the Blocks have created in the North Shore newsroom. Before these attacks, the newsroom had a collegial, creative, efficient, enjoyable and safe workplace culture. 

“This byline strike shows that we journalists who love our profession are the Post-Gazette, not Burris, who has been executive editor for only nine months, and the multimillionaire Blocks. There is no Post-Gazette without us,” said Michael A. Fuoco, a 35-year PG reporter and Guild president. “We are fighting for the soul of an iconic 233-year-old newspaper we dearly love but which the Blocks and Burris are trying to destroy. “Our solidarity in our battle against workplace oppression and in defense of journalism and the Post-Gazette is unyielding,” 

Stringers who are neither PG employees nor Guild members have indicated to their PG editors that they will withhold their bylines in support of the Guild. Guild-represented columnists — including Brian O’Neill, Tony Norman, Gene Collier, Ron Cook and Joe Starkey — have been told by PG management that their columns will not appear without their bylines. 

NOTE: At 2:34 p.m. today, management changed course and sent the following email to staff: 

During the byline strike we’ll be continuing to publish PG columnists’ articles with a “Commentary:” prefix in the headlines and the following graph in italics at the top of the article: 

The commentary below contains opinion. The author’s name has been withheld at the writer’s request. In addition, we will use NO author bylines on any wire service material, but continue to identify the wire service or newspaper source in the byline field (EX: The Associated Press).

“We are encouraged by the support of the stringers, PG readers and from people across the country,” Fuoco said. “It goes without saying that the unprecedented attacks on newsroom employees by Burris and the Blocks are linked to BCI’s refusal to bargain fairly in three years of fruitless negotiations with PG unions for new contracts. We have gone nearly 14 years without a raise, they have refused to pay health-care premium increases for two years and they have proposed taking away even more benefits. They have no shame. 

“We ask those who support our taking a stand for dignity in the workplace to contact Burris and the Blocks and let them know that their anti-union actions are not welcome in Pittsburgh, the birthplace of unionism.” 

Guild members also are wearing “No Confidence” buttons in the newsroom in reference to an overwhelmingly approved no-confidence vote taken Monday to additionally show the union’s opposition to the hostile workplace that the Blocks and Burris have created (please see attached release from Monday). 

Their transgressions include: 

• The firing or forcing out of three beloved newsroom managers with combined service of nearly 100 years to the PG because they stood up to Burris’ dictatorial actions. Four other managers have left this year and one departure is pending. 

• Cultivating hurt and bewilderment among the staff through Burris’ belittling behavior toward individual Guild members. This has led to turmoil and uncertainty among the remaining staff and has contributed to a desperate exodus of 16 talented journalists from the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper over the last six months. 

• Retaliating against certain Guild members and leaders by reassigning those who have challenged him in any way to positions that adversely affect their lives or their work on behalf of the union. 

• Abusing and refusing to work cooperatively with or even speak to Guild leadership. 

• Triggering an unprecedented number of grievances and Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the Guild never before seen in the union’s 85 years at the PG. “We will not quit fighting until this disgraceful treatment ends. No employee anywhere deserves to work in a hostile environment like this,” Fuoco said.

Newspaper Guild members wear black in mourning decline in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette print days

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Today, Sept. 30, marks the first Monday without a print edition under the Post-Gazette’s new production schedule, with no clear vision for moving forward as a mostly digital operation.

All of us in the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh mourn the loss of print days for an award-winning newspaper and are equally concerned about the future.

To mark this sad occasion, Guild members at the PG today will be wearing black clothing and a black ribbon as reminders of what we and our community have lost.

We do this because we worry about our readers not receiving the information they need. Many are not inclined or equipped to switch to digital platforms. We worry about the effect on democracy because of that. We worry about where the Post-Gazette, and our community, go from here.

Even as the Guild has been struggling for 2 1/2 years to gain a fair contract with PG owners Block Communications Inc., what hasn’t been lost is the vigilance and professionalism of the 140 journalists of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council Labor Day Parade 2019

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Post-Gazette notifies unions that it will be eliminating two additional days of print, starting in September 2019.

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The Post-Gazette informed Guild president Michael Fuoco today that beginning on Sept. 30 it will eliminate two more days of print, meaning the P-G will print for home delivery only three days a week. This is yet another bad decision from a company that continues to show zero respect to employees or readers.

Coverage of the elimination of two more days of print:

Laura Bassett Statement Regarding the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Print Publication Cuts
SaveJournalism.org
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Will Only Print Three Days A Week
90.5 WESA
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is cutting more print days in transition to “digital-only newspaper”
The Incline
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper cutting down to 3 days a week for print edition
WTAE
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to “Phase Out” all Print operations to become fully digital
Pittsburgh Current
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to cut two more print days, print only 3 days a week
Pittsburgh City Paper

Community rally during Newspaper Guild contract negotiations

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Labor unions, activists, politicians, and supporters take to North Shore Drive in support of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

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On Friday, June 7, politicians, labor unions, activists, and supporters of all kinds rallied on N. Shore Drive in front of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offices to demand that Block Communications negotiate a fair and equitable contract with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

A huge thank you goes out to all of the organizations that showed up in support.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit
ATM 85
Battle of Homestead Foundation
Teamsters 249 and 211
American Association of African Americans Labor History
SEIU Healthcare PA
UE
PG Mailers Local 22
Pittsburgh DSA
United Food and Commercial Workers
Keystone State
aIBEW
Thomas Merton Center
Pittsburgh United
Mon Valley Unemployed Committee
SAG-AFTRA
CWA 13,000

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