The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh met with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday. It was the first time the Post-Gazette has met with the guild since workers went on strike Oct. 18. The talks started at 10 a.m. and ended by about 2 p.m.  

Both sides agreed to hold a second meeting, which will take place Thursday, Nov. 17, at the same location — Downtown’s Omni William Penn Hotel.

This was the first bargaining session the guild has held with the company since September 2020. Guild members said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did not bargain in good faith on Monday, but they’re hopeful the company will in the future.

“Good-faith bargaining requires that session to session, things change,” Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner told the Union Progress. “We put our proposal on the table today. We’re going to analyze that and think about movement we can do on it. I hope the company does the same thing.”

Striking newspaper workers and supporters gather Monday, Nov. 14, for a rally at Mellon Square before the first round of bargaining. (Joshua Axelrod/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

The Post-Gazette was represented by human relations partner Carolyn Rice and Richard Lowe of the Nashville, Tenn., law firm King & Ballow.

Lowe said that it would be “a bridge too far” to discuss the guild’s desire to temporarily bring back the terms of its 2014-17 contract in place of the one imposed on its members after the Post-Gazette declared an impasse on negotiations in 2020.

At one point, Lowe expressed his feeling that “it’s almost like we’ve gone through a contract,” to which Tanner countered, “There was no contract cycle because there was no contract.”

Rice and Lowe declined to comment. Fulton Miklos, the federal mediator brought in during negotiation, also declined to comment on Monday’s bargaining session.

The Post-Gazette did not return a Union Progress request for comment, but in a brief statement quoted by WESA-FM, marketing director Allison Latcheran called the negotiations constructive, saying the company is “encouraged” and looks forward to meeting again on Thursday.

Representatives of other striking Post-Gazette unions — representing workers in the transportation, press, typographical and advertising departments  — also were present at the meeting.

Tina Geyer with the AFCME joins the rally before negotiations at Mellon Square on Monday, Nov. 14, in Pittsburgh. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Before the meeting, guild members held a rally in nearby Mellon Square. 

Members of other unions came by to show their support before Newspaper Guild members headed into bargaining. Supporters included United Steelworkers, the Federation of Teachers, United Food and Commercial Workers and even the Buffalo Newspaper Guild. 

“People far beyond the city of Pittsburgh care about what is happening to you here,” said Buffalo Newspaper Guild president Sandy Tan. “We are here with you in spirit every day.”

Tanner said that it was an encouraging sign that the company signaled that it would be willing to engage in negotiations on topics such as wages and health care.

But the guild said its demands to end the strike continue to include restoring the health insurance for workers in distribution, production and advertising, who lost their health insurance as a result of management’s action effective Oct. 1, as well as undoing the unilateral changes to working conditions and reinstate conditions of the previously bargained Guild contract until a new agreement is reached.

Both sides will now discuss among themselves how they would like to proceed before bargaining resumes later this week.

“I’m hopeful things will change before Thursday,” Tanner said. “It takes two sides to do that, though.”

Joshua covers pop culture, media and more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Noelle is a business reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.