The Vindicator newspaper strike here in Youngstown continues into its 12th week. Workers on the picket line have grown hardy against the winter.

Two unions walked at the beginning of this strike: 171 people from The Newspaper Guild, Local 11, and 24 mailroom clerks represented by Teamster Local 473.

The Teamsters returned to work on Jan. 10. What leveraged the settlement was the fact that, had they remained on strike, each mail clerk would have faced a deficit of $2,200 — the lump sum payment due on their health insurance. The contract, though concessionary, lasts only one year. “We respect their decision and wish them well,” said Anthony Markota, president of Local 11.

At a negotiating session Jan. 18, Local 11 and the company locked horns regarding health insurance.

Another serious problem is mandatory overtime due to understaffing in the circulation department. Weekend work schedules were so chaotic that papers often never got out to the carrier routes, resulting in cancelled subscriptions. The Vindicator will not fill the driving positions necessary to solve this problem. Instead, they just use telemarketers to call the same numbers over and over, trying to sell subscriptions.

Neither does the company want the expense of keeping its own trucks anymore. They want circulation drivers to work their own vehicles in exchange for a paltry mileage allotment, nothing more. Nothing for periodic repairs, and nothing toward the mandatory $300,000 of commercial car insurance. If these trucks were horses, they’d have been given straw for pay.

The company abruptly concluded the negotiating session after two and a half hours. No new talks are scheduled at this time.

— Pat McKinney