Motorists zipping along West Carson Street around midnight on Wednesdays and Saturdays the past several months may have noticed a gaggle of people gathered at the entrance of the Gateway View Plaza.
These folks are striking Post-Gazette workers picketing the newspaper’s South Side distribution facility. They’ve proven to be quite a headache for PG management, who claimed the striking workers are trespassing, blocking the building’s only entrance and verbally harassing and threatening workers who’d crossed the picket line. The PG hired security guards who hovered around the site and shot video of the picketers, whose numbers have ranged from a half dozen to more than 25.
Then, several months ago, the newspaper sought a permanent injunction that would prohibit the striking union members from picketing the facility.
On Monday, an Allegheny County judge denied the newspaper’s request. The PG was “unable to establish any property damage caused by the Unions,” Common Pleas Judge Mary C. McGinley wrote in her decision. Picketing strikers delayed the delivery of newspapers, she wrote, but at no time halted delivery. And “while plenty of colorful language was on display in the videos admitted into evidence, there were no specific threats made or conduct rising to the level of unlawful acts.”
Granting the injunction would “prevent defendants from picketing in places where they may lawfully be doing so.”
Officers of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh claimed the decision is one more piece of evidence that the striking workers have the law on their side in the almost 10-month-old labor dispute.
“We’re always getting one step closer to winning this thing,” said guild President Zack Tanner. In January, he noted, an administrative law judge ruled that the PG had bargained in bad faith with the guild since 2017 and thus violated the National Labor Relations Act.
“The Post-Gazette and the Blocks [the family that owns the newspaper] need to see reality: The workers on strike are going to win this. The more they fight us, the more they’re wasting money and time. Get real PG, it’s time to settle this.”
Guild Unit Chair Andrew Goldstein is a frequent presence at the GVP pickets. In fact, police officers who are often summoned to the scene by PG managers greet him by name.
“I can tell you from experience that the company and its representatives are the ones who frequently are creating dangerous situations,” said Goldstein. “We have had to protect ourselves for months when all we want to do is act on the rights that we have. We’re standing out there walking in a circle, holding our signs. They’re the ones driving the Mack trucks, they’re the ones constantly recording us with video cameras, they’re the ones making 911 calls to police simply because we have a presence there.”
“Quite frankly,” he added, “if we did half the stuff we’re accused of, there are so many security guards and police around us constantly that we’d all be in jail.”