Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers garner strong CWA backing for their strike
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers on the picket line, November 2022. (@PGHGuild / Twitter)

ST. LOUIS —Ten months and counting. Forced to strike by two bosses who are among the nastiest in the nation, workers at the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette brought their cause to their parent union, the News Guild, and its parent, the Communications Workers, garnering strong support.

And cash, too: $3978 in checks from other locals and councils at the Guild’s convention/sector conference, another $5000 in pledges, $10,837 deposited in a glass jar at the CWA convention and

$300,000 from the big union’s special defense fund, by acclamation vote at that confab in St. Louis.

The sums don’t count “adopt a striker” payments by locals to augment CWA’s strike benefits. They also don’t include the net back pay and other expenses the workers must incur to keep themselves alive while out on their forced strike. That includes running up credit card bills, deferring doctors’ appointments, and skimping on rent, food, and other daily expenses to make ends meet.

The National Labor Relations Board’s top enforcement officer, General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, recently declared that if bosses force workers out on strike by labor law-breaking, the board’s remedies to the injured workers would include not just net back pay, but all of the above.

For the forced Post-Gazette strikers, that total is $6.5 million and counting.

The News Guild, two other CWA locals, and two Teamsters locals face the Block brothers, notorious for refusing to bargain a new contract with their other notable paper, The Toledo Blade, for more than a decade. The five Pittsburgh locals represent more than 100 workers, most of them News Guild members.

In Pittsburgh, the Blocks refuse to bargain in good faith, defy National Labor Relations Board bargaining orders, cut off health insurance to the PPG workers they forced to strike, and planned to force them into an inferior company-run plan.

The Blocks even refused an offer by the unions to pay workers’ health care premiums under its current plan for the first months of the forced strike, through the end of 2022.

The Blocks “are the worst employer across The News Guild out of the 455 bargaining agreements” the union has, said TNG President Jon Schleuss.

“Against any other employer, having Scabby The Rat in front of the private club in Pittsburgh when the publisher was getting married would have sent them running” to the bargaining table in embarrassment, said Pittsburgh local President Zack Tanner, one of four Post-Gazette workers to address The News Guild. The workers even dressed Scabby in a wedding veil.

None of the public shaming has worked, yet. Nor has PPG red ink, as readers and advertisers defect to the strikers’ paper, the Pittsburgh Union Progress.

The workers now look for renewed pressure from the Labor Board’s General Counsel. Abruzzo, whom Democratic President Joe Biden named to the job, is a former top CWA attorney.

“We’ve had eight to 10 bargaining sessions and they haven’t moved at all,” in those talks and in three prior years, one worker said. PPG workers haven’t had raises in more than a decade.

“It’s a shame those two nitwits don’t come to their senses, fire their asshole lawyers” and bargain in good faith with the workers, then-CWA President Chris Shelton told The News Guild. “In Washington, we’re talking to a lot of government agencies” about how to push the Blocks to bargain.

The NLRB may be the ultimate relief, Shelton added. “If we get you a 10(j) injunction,” the board’s ultimate enforcement weapon, a mandatory federal court order, “this strike will be sooner ended,” he predicted.


Press Associates
Press Associates

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.