How is the contract situation at the PG?
Not good. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh’s contract expired March 31, 2017. Since then, we’ve been negotiating with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and its highly profitable Toledo-based parent company, BCI. As of December 2018, we’re in the 22nd month of negotiations.
That sounds like a long time.
It is! BCI and its owner, Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block and his twin brother, BCI Chairman Allan Block, have sicced on the Guild the pricey, union-busting Nashville, Tenn. law firm King & Ballow. Their representative at the bargaining table is firm partner Richard Lowe.
What does the Guild want?
A fair and equitable contract. The dedicated journalists who put out the news around the clock every single day for the greater Pittsburgh community have not had a raise in 13 years. Meanwhile our members have given back millions of dollars in concessions — part of the tens of millions of dollars the Blocks have received from all of the PG’S unions — as part of years-long pay cuts to help keep the Post-Gazette afloat.
To add insult to injury, the Blocks have violated federal labor law by refusing to properly fund our health insurance in 2018 despite an administrative law judge’s order to do so — and the PG has said it won’t comply with the judge’s order in 2019 either. That means our health insurance benefits, which already got worse this year thanks to the Blocks, will suffer again next year. Asked whether the company couldn’t afford the premium increase, Lowe said recently at the bargaining table that the PG “is not claiming an inability to pay.”
Members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh are handing out flyers in Downtown Pittsburgh this morning outside the Omni William Penn where publisher John Robinson Block is speaking.
A thank you video from the Post-Gazette and The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.
A month ago, a man walked into the Tree of Life synagogue and began
shooting. He took 11 precious lives and left Pittsburgh reeling.
Pittsburgh is a small city, so the reporters, editors,
photojournalists and paginators here at the Post-Gazette felt deep
pain while covering this international story. Our colleagues at
several news organizations stepped forward to support us during this difficult time, and we are deeply appreciative.
The video was produced by Guild member and photojournalist Steve Mellon.
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
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
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
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh received this letter today from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Since 1996, the Guild has awarded more than $64,000 to 46 college students who plan to pursue careers in journalism who either live in the Pittsburgh area or attend a college or university within the coverage area of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The money can be used to pay tuition, purchase books and electronics or to help defray the expense of participating in an unpaid internship.
This year, the Guild awarded three $1,000 scholarships to:
-Amanda Reed, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying nonfiction writing and communications, who hopes to work for a magazine one day
-Nicole Pampena, a junior studying journalism at Point Park University with an affinity for broadcast
-Josh Croup, a senior broadcast reporting major at Point Park University who hopes to work as a local news or sports reporter
In early April, Guild leadership and members of the scholarship committee attended a luncheon with the winners at The Foundry on the North Shore to celebrate.
The funding for each scholarship is raised through “Off the Record” a satirical production of the Newspaper Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. In addition to supporting the scholarship, the primary beneficiary of this effort is the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The winners are chosen by a volunteer committee of Guild members who score entries based on academic achievement, quality of journalism in the writing samples submitted, letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
Judges this year were Post-Gazette staff writers Courtney Linder, Daniel Moore and Tim Grant.
The scholarship is named for Sally Kalson, a late colleague, friend and Guild leader who sadly passed away.
A reporter for the Post-Gazette for more than 30 years, Sally was an award-winning Post-Gazette columnist and a longtime Guild officer and negotiator who wrote for the PG and worked for the Guild the way she lived life — with grace, humility, and a commitment to social and economic justice, civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights.