The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continued to bargain in bad faith with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh on Thursday. It was the second meeting between the two parties since the guild went on strike Oct. 18.
The guild brought new concessions to the table in a bid to get striking journalists back to work. The Post-Gazette, represented by lawyer Richard Lowe and human relations partner Carolyn Rice, refused what the guild proposed and offered no counter proposal.
Bargaining will resume after Thanksgiving, on Dec. 6, at the same location: the Omni William Penn Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh.
“I think today went pretty poorly,” Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner told the Union Progress. “The union came with some pretty major concessions on a couple of really big items that we had been pretty apprehensive about moving on before. But we really wanted to come and work toward a strike settlement.
“It was very obvious that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was not interested in ending the strike based on how they operated at the bargaining table today.”
A Post-Gazette representative did not return a Union Progress request for comment.
Thursday’s discussions mostly revolved around the kinds of work Post-Gazette managers should and shouldn’t be allowed to do. Previous contracts forbade them from engaging in the same kinds of work as guild members.
During bargaining, guild members grew frustrated by having to debate clauses about newsroom work without any newsroom managers present.
“Why isn’t a newsroom representative here?” asked guild unit chair Andrew Goldstein. “You’re talking like you know what goes on in our newsroom, but you clearly do not. … You’re extremely inaccurate with what you think is going on here.”
When asked if he could invite a newsroom manager to join bargaining, Lowe said, “This is our committee.”
Lowe said the guild’s proposal “doesn’t have any meaning” since it didn’t come with specific numbers attached.
“Until there’s a percentage in there, I don’t know how to respond to it,” Lowe said.
When the guild’s lawyer, Joe Pass, gave him a hypothetical number to respond to, Lowe still did not consider it. While Lowe praised the “major accomplishment” of the company and guild agreeing on some basic points, he still balked at the idea of restricting managers’ ability to do guild work.
“If a manager wants to write a story, why would you prevent him from doing that work?” Lowe asked at one point, adding that there should be “no limitations on what managers can do.”
With little progress made on Thursday, guild members will continue their strike. Actions planned include a rally outside Post-Gazette owner J.R. Block’s wedding reception, scheduled for this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Downtown’s Duquesne Club.
“We’re going to want them to come and recognize the noise we’ve been making and that everybody who’s on strike wants this strike to be over,” Tanner said. “I want them to come with an acknowledgement of that and a path forward to do that.”