Allegheny County Council approves motion in support of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette union workers | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Allegheny County Council approves motion in support of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette union workers

A motion introduced by Allegheny County Councilor Sam DeMarco (R-At large) in support of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in its current labor dispute with the owners of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette passed unanimously during a council meeting Tuesday night, with all members co-sponsoring the motion.

The Council, comprised of 12 Democrats and 3 Republicans, requests P-G owners Block Communications, the Guild, and all other unions representing P-G employees resume negotiations, without “resorting to unilaterally impose conditions of employment or a work stoppage.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh is on the brink of a strike, as the nearly 120-member union voted recently to authorize a strike request, and is now awaiting response from the executive committee of the national Newspaper Guild.
DeMarco sponsored the motion in the interest of “continuing to have a free, fair, and objective press,” hoping that the Post-Gazette management will “come back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair agreement.”
“I don’t normally like to get into these things, to get in between a labor union and management of an organization. However, this is an extremely important situation here. The last time there was a newspaper strike here in Pittsburgh, we lost a newspaper forever with the Pittsburgh Press,” DeMarco said at the meeting. “I believe that a free and objective press is fundamentally necessary to inform the public, and for us to engage in debate, and for those folks to shine light on the things that are happening in our locality.”

DeMarco noted that Post-Gazette employees haven’t had a raise in 14 years, and that the situation is particularly time sensitive as at least three unions have now authorized their members to strike as management has walked away from negotiations.

Councilor DeWitt Walton (D-Hill District) also spoke in “strong support” of the motion, calling the dispute “a continuing effort by the owners of the Post-Gazette to disenfranchise hardworking men and women who committed their years of effort to make and keep the Post-Gazette viable.”

“When I read this story earlier today, I really became incensed,” Walton said. “I looked at the law firm that was representing the Post-Gazette, and it brought back memories because if I’m not mistaken, I’ve found myself in similar circumstances representing workers in a newspaper strike in Beaver County. This company violated every reasonable effort, and significant portions of the National Labor Relations Act in their dealings with workers who were attempting to unionize that company. … And, as a result, I have to strongly support this motion.”

Guild president and P-G reporter Michael Fuoco said he was “happily surprised” to hear about the unanimous vote and that he “couldn’t be happier” with Allegheny County Council’s motion.

“This shows that our message — which is that we don’t want to strike, that we want to negotiate a settlement — is one that is reasonable. We want to go back to being journalists, to reporting stories, and not being the story,” Fuoco said. “The only way that that can happen is that the owners of the paper get rid of the obstruction to a settlement, which is their Tennessee law firm that has not negotiated in good faith in three and a half years. Hire another law firm from Pittsburgh, that cares about this city, and would be reasonable, and we’ll knock out an agreement fair to both sides in no time.”

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