Community support for the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

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On Monday, March 25, dozens of grassroots, community organizers rallied outside of the Post-Gazette offices on North Shore Dr. in support of a getting a fair contract for the over 150 workers of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

Read WESA’s coverage of the rally: ‘Shame On The Blocks’: Protesters Condemn Post-Gazette Publisher’s Treatment Of Employees

This followed a smaller rally on March 8, from union supporters around the area.

The same community organized group also put together a Change.org petition in support of a fair contract for the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. Sign on today to support the fight!

Fair Contract for a Free PG Press

On the ground: Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh members leaflet outside of a Post-Gazette sponsored health care forum

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See the Guild press release:


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(Melissa Tkach)

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Post-Gazette newsroom employees leaflet for second straight week in protest of illegally slashes health-care benefits, 13 years without a raise

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For the second consecutive week, members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh—all of them newsroom employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette–distributed leaflets today, protesting 13 years without a raise and two straight years during which the company has defied federal law by refusing to pay health-care premium increases.

Guild members distributed leaflets outside of a Post-Gazette-sponsored “Health Forum” at the Champions Club in Heinz Field. The free forum was promoted as examining why a country of great wealth nonetheless has “great disparities in the health of our citizens and in access to health resources.” More info on the health-care forum can be found here:

In October, an administrative law judge agreed with the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that the Post-Gazette violated federal law by not paying a 5% increase in the 2018 health care premium for 400 unionized employees at the newspaper. The judge ordered the company to pay the premium increase and to reimburse those adversely affected by the company’s improper decision.

Instead, the PG appealed the ruling to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C. Additionally, it told the unions it will not pay another 5 percent increase set for 2019. Another NLRB Unfair Labor Practice will be filed against the company, said Michael A. Fuoco, a PG enterprise reporter and president of the 150-member Newspaper Guild.

“We find it incredibly hypocritical that the Post-Gazette would sponsor a forum on health-care disparities when it has chosen to illegally slash the health-care benefits of about 400 members of the Guild and other PG unions,” Fuoco said. “The Post-Gazette has unilaterally created a health-care disparity for its workers in defiance of the rule of law.”

The reporters, photographers, copy editors and other newsroom employees who leafleted were also protesting a long-standing 8 percent cut in wages, 13 years without a raise, and working without a contract for 22 months with no end in sight. The PG has hired a union-busting law firm from Nashville to handle its negotiations..

“It’s time Block Communications Inc. Chairman Allan Block and his twin brother, PG Publisher John Robinson Block, start acting as ethical stewards of a 232-year-old newspaper and treat quality journalists with dignity, fairness and respect,” said Fuoco, a 34-year PG employee. “To deny us raises for 13 years and to cause our health-care benefits to be cut two years in a row is unconscionable.

“Our fight for economic justice will not end until the Blocks face the reality we are not going away until we get what we deserve–a fair and equitable contract.”

Last week, Guild members leafleted outside the Omni William Penn Hotel before Publisher John Robinson Block addressed a noon Rotary luncheon inside.

The Guild, and other unions at the Post-Gazette, have been separately negotiating for new individual contracts since the last ones expired in March 2017.

Post-Gazette newsroom employees leaflet Downtown as PG publisher speaks at noon luncheon

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About 30 members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh—all of them newsroom employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette–distributed leaflets today protesting 13 years without a raise and two straight years in which the company is defying federal law in not paying health care premium increases.

Nearly 500 leaflets (please see attached) were distributed in 45 minutes outside the Omni William Penn Hotel before Publisher John Robinson Block addressed a noon Rotary luncheon inside. The Guild, and other unions at the Post-Gazette, have been separately negotiating for new individual contracts since the last ones expired in March 2017. The Post-Gazette, owned by BCI, has been using a union-busting law firm from Tennessee in negotiations with all the unions.

“This is but the first of many planned mobilization efforts to more visibly express our displeasure with the way John Block and his twin brother, Allan Block, chairman of  Toledo,Ohio-based Block Communications Inc., have treated us for 13 years,” said Michael A. Fuoco, a 35-year reporter at the paper and president of the Newspaper Guild, which represents 150 newsroom employees.

“All we are asking is to be treated with the dignity and respect we’ve earned with our talent, loyalty and dedication. To deny us raises for 13 years and to cause our health care benefits to be cut two years in a row is unconscionable. They need to change and fast.

“Today we put the Blocks on notice we are not going away. There will be no deaths by a thousand cuts. More and escalated protests will follow unless and until they finally do the right thing and negotiate fair and equitable contracts with loyal employees,” Fuoco said.

“Yes, the Post-Gazette loses money, but BCI is a profitable communications corporation built upon the one-time profits of the Post-Gazette. Moreover, there is a social compact for owning a 232-year-old Pittsburgh institution. They should be fair employers of journalists upon whose work democracy depends.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh sends thanks to the South Florida Sun Sentinel

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Thank you, from the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

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The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh thanks with utmost gratitude former PG staffer Jane Elizabeth and her staff at the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, and the Toledo Newspaper Guild and its president, Nolan Rosenkrans, for their thoughtful donations to our staff of lunch and dinner on Sunday and Monday.

In the midst of our dedicated members’ round-the-clock work covering the atrocity visited Saturday upon the Tree of Life synagogue, the gift of food arrived in our newsroom as a balm for both stomachs and souls. We salute our colleagues in Raleigh and Toledo for carrying us in their hearts, showing a generosity of spirit and reminding us that we all stand together.

Jonathan D. Silver
Unit Chairman
Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh

Administrative Law Judges Sustains the Unfair Labor Practice Charge that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Violated Federal Law

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An administrative law judge ruled Tuesday that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette violated federal law
by not paying a 5% increase in the 2018 health care premium for 400 unionized employees at the
newspaper.

In a 38-page ruling, Administrative Law Judge David I. Goldman ordered the
company to pay the premium increase and to reimburse those adversely affected by the
company’s improper decision. The Company has the right to appeal.

“We hope the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will do the right thing and pay what it is legally required
by federal law and morally required as an employer,” said Michael A. Fuoco, Newspaper Guild
president. “We’ll just have to wait and see if they follow the law and have a moral compass.”
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents 150 newsroom employees at the PG,
initially filed the Unfair Labor Practice in January, charging that the PG and its owner, Block
Communications, Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, violated federal law by unilaterally deciding not to pay
an increase in health care during collective bargaining for a new contract. Other unions,
representing another 250 members representing the Teamsters, operating engineers, pressmen,
mailers, advertising and finance, joined in the ULP filing. All of the unions have been involved
in bargaining with BCI for 20 months over contracts that expired March 31, 2017.

Companies involved in bargaining are required by federal law to “continue the status quo in the
terms and conditions of employment while the parties negotiate for a new labor agreement,”
according to Judge Goldman’s decision. The PG’s unilateral refusal to pay the 5 percent
premium increase resulted in diminished health-care benefits for the 400 union members as of
April 1.

In response to the Unfair Labor Practice charge, the National Labor Relations Board regional
director of the Pittsburgh office ruled in the unions’ favor. BCI, under advice of union-busting
Nashville, Tenn., law firm King & Ballow, which is in charge of its negotiations with the unions,
advised the company to appeal. That resulted in a hearing before Judge Goldman on Aug. 21
which led to his decision.

Michael A. Fuoco
President, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh