Striking journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spent the first part of Thursday’s bargaining session confronting PG attorney Richard Lowe of King & Ballow with questions rising from a Jan. 26 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Geoffrey Carter of the National Labor Relations Board. Carter ruled that the company had failed to bargain in good faith as required by federal law.

One by one, the workers read sections of the Post-Gazette’s proposed contract that dealt with several issues, including wages, health care and layoffs. They ended their readings noting that “Judge Carter found this, along with other proposals, to ‘evidence an intent not to reach an agreement,’” and asking Lowe, “What proposals do you have to address this?”

During the readings, Lowe did not look at the workers. Instead, he kept his eyes on a yellow legal pad on which he was taking notes. This apparently irked striking digital editor Mike Pound, who began to address the issue of guaranteed work hours.

Pound asked Lowe, “Do I have your attention?”

“Go ahead, I’m listening,” Lowe responded. He continued to look down and write.

“No, you’re not,” Pound said. “I’d appreciate some eye contact.”

Lowe did not respond but continued writing.

“Mr. Lowe, I’m sitting right across from you,” Pound said. “Can you please look up?”

After several seconds of silence,  Zack Tanner, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, said to Lowe, “We can sit here all day.”

A minute passed while Lowe continued to write. Then he said, “OK,” looked up briefly at Pound and immediately returned his attention to the notebook while Pound read a section from the PG’s proposal. Pound finished by asking what new proposals Lowe had brought.

“We still have our proposal as of Nov. 14, 2022,” Lowe said. It was a line he repeated throughout the brief morning session.

That proposal remains substantially unchanged despite numerous bargaining sessions dating back to 2017. The guild had asked Lowe to bring a new proposal to the day’s session, and Tanner inquired about this when the two sides gathered at 10:30 a.m. in the Oliver Room of the Omni William Penn, Downtown. Lowe did not have anything new and said he wanted each side to review the current proposals section by section to pinpoint areas of disagreement.

This proved problematic for union negotiators. In its proposal, the company did not indicate where it had changed language, wording and punctuation — changes that could alter the meaning of the contract’s articles. In addition, the company changed the contract’s formatting, often making it difficult to ensure both sides were discussing the same section.

Still, in sessions later in the morning and into the afternoon, negotiators combed through individual articles, a tedious and time-consuming process. Tensions rose during Lowe’s attempt to condense six years of bargaining into one afternoon’s re-creation of what articles still had unresolved issues.

“Can we agree?” Lowe said after mentioning one such article.

“We’ll review it to make certain the language is the same,” Tanner responded.

“Trust me,” Lowe said.

Laughter broke out in the room. Lowe smiled sheepishly.

After several hours, the guild bargaining committee acknowledged the importance of the day’s exercise and indicated it would continue the work in caucus and prepare a full statement for the next bargaining session, which has yet to be scheduled.

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at