For the second day in a row, and maybe for the last time at least for a while, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was present at a Downtown Pittsburgh hotel and available to assist the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and its unions bargain to resolve a strike that has continued for nearly six months.

For a second day in a row, no representative of the company showed up.

Leaders of the unions expressed f-bombs of frustration but still managed to get some work done, and took advantage of the insight mediators can offer to parties that want it. Union leaders agreed to try again to meet with the company the week of April 10, even if that is without mediators.

In communicating that the company would not attend Wednesday morning’s bargaining session that local mediator Fulton Miklos scheduled at the Omni William Penn Hotel, attorney Richard Lowe objected to the new presence of a second mediator from Boston, Marty Callaghan. Lowe told the unions the company no longer will bargain with any mediator but rather directly with each union.

So Miklos and Callaghan hosted only 10 union leaders and their attorney, Joe Pass Sr., at Wednesday’s conference room session. Pass asked Lowe, who’s based in Nashville, to attend Thursday morning, but Lowe replied that the company would not.

The Post-Gazette previously said that it requested a federal mediator. That was back in November 2022, about a month after production, advertising and transportation workers went on strike after the company effectively left them without health care. Newsroom workers, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, went on their own unfair labor practices strike in mid-October.

Guild President Zack Tanner around that time received a letter from the company saying that a mediator “may prove valuable to the parties in their attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.” To which he responded, fine, noting that an FMCS mediator was present at several bargaining sessions after the guild’s 2017 contract expired and before the company declared an impasse and imposed conditions in 2020. The company, Tanner said, still needed “to come in good faith to negotiate.”

After a half dozen bargaining sessions over the past four months that included Lowe and a couple of other company representatives, Miklos and the unions, the company has not moved from its proposals. The unions still have proposals to talk about and at least one proposal to present to the company, and the guild wants to get a new proposal from the company, as well. But the company must be present.

As the mediators made clear Thursday, mediation is completely voluntary — they can’t compel a party to attend, nor could they say if there is an authority who can. That’s a question that was asked by CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney, who said, “These are human … beings out here suffering.”

For about two hours Thursday, he and other union leaders discussed strategies and proposals to continue to try to get some actual bargaining done when the two sides meet next month.

“I certainly don’t want to do THIS,” said Teamster local leader Joe Barbano, as he sat across from chairs that usually would hold two company representatives.

The mediators agreed that even without them, as Callaghan put it, “I think you should meet.”

And so Pass communicated the unions’ availability during that week of April 10.

Meanwhile, to mark the six-year anniversary of the contracts expiring for all PG workers, strikers and supporters plan to gather outside PG co-owner and publisher John Block’s house at 725 Devonshire St., Shadyside, at 11 a.m. on Saturday and they welcome the public to join them. Signs of support will be available for people to take home and place in their own yards. You can also seek one online at

Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at

Bob Batz Jr.

Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at