Post-Gazette Hires Union Busting Firm to Head Negotiations
Posted On: Dec 21, 2017
Post-Gazette negotiating committee members from Mailers M-22 and Pittsburgh Typo No. 7, from left: Ken Napierkowski, Don McConnell, Frank McAfee, John Knott and Steve Stasenko

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, owned by the privately held, highly profitable Block Communications, is once again in negotiations with its unions and, you guessed it, they are asking for huge concessions from the already beleaguered workforce.

In the past, a group of 10 unions, called the Unity Council, have bargained collectively for the economics portion of the agreements and then independently on the issues that affect their membership. This time however, the company has hired the notorious union-busting law firm of King and Ballow to negotiate each contract separately with the 10 unions.

In March, the company presented their proposal to the Mailers Local M-22 negotiating committee. “The company’s proposal is another slap in the face to our members. Our union, and all of those in the Unity Council, have given back for the last three contract cycles, to the tune of more than $60 million,” said Steve Stasenko, M-22 president. “They want jurisdiction, no five-day guarantee, they want to change the health care plan, they don’t want to honor our senority, and they want to replace full-time mailers with more part-time workers. Generally speaking, they just want to gut the entire contract.”

Don McConnell, Pittsburgh Typographical Union No. 7 president says his union is experiencing similar demands for concessions. McConnell’s Local represents mostly salaried office workers at the Post-Gazette in the advertising and finance departments.
“They want jurisdiction from us too,” says McConnell. “They also want to take away guaranteed hours from salaried employees, and changes to the health care plan.”

Some workers making as little as $8.75 an hour would end up paying most of their paycheck back to cover the cost of the proposed health plan, McConnell explained. “When I ran the numbers, they end up making $0.99 an hour after paying for a plan that would still require them to meet an outrageous out-of-pocket expense number before it would kick in to cover anything.”

For Stasenko and McConnell, they have been down this road before with the Post-Gazette. In 2013, the company invested more than $18 million in a new facility and printing press in Clinton, PA, about 40 miles from its former headquarters, promising that the new facility would be used to complete commercial work that would generate additional revenue, eventually creating more jobs. The caveat, the unions would have to give the company concessions in their contract negotiations to get the deal done.

During those negotiations, McConnell and Stasenko both said, their members, and the Unity Council, did not want to give anything up. The workers hadn’t had a raise since 2006. They still haven’t. But, after two years of negotiations, the unions made some concessions to save jobs with the understanding that once the new facility was doing more commercial work, they’d see their members start to get rewarded. But Stasenko says poor management practices have kept that from happening.

Roughly eight months into bargaining this time around, neither McConnell or Stasenko can say with any certainty when they expect to have a new contract in place.

“We will continue to hold firm to try to get the best contract possible for our members,” said Stasenko. “With the continued help and support of PPMWS President Wasser, I think we can get it done. He’s been instrumental in the last three rounds of negotiations at the Post-Gazette so he really understands what we are up against.”

PPMWS represents over 8,000 workers in a diverse range of occupations in daily newspapers, commercial printing and mailing operations, graphic design, specialty manufacturing, publishing and distribution as well as the U. S. Government Printing Office. Our union combines the proud heritage of the International Typographical Union-the oldest continuously operating union in America-with the dynamic vision of the Communications Workers of America. The combination of these two influences provides our members and their families with responsive representation and progressive programs.

Communications Workers of America


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219 Fort Pitt Blvd., 3rd Floor
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