This is the full text of a Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh press release, titled, “AI Will Not Scab Us: Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh denounces Post-Gazette’s Use of Artificial Intelligence, File Grievance.”
Newsroom workers represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh vehemently denounce the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s (PG) use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create an illustration that was published in the Jan. 21, 2024, print edition of the newspaper. A formal grievance and information request were filed by the union to PG executive editor Stan Wischnowski on Monday morning.
“The Post-Gazette’s attempt to replace our labor with artificial intelligence is a serious concern to journalists not just in Pittsburgh but all across the country,” said Zack Tanner, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president. “As newsroom jobs continue to disappear due to corporate greed and mismanagement, we stand firmly against any use of AI that takes work out of union members’ hands.”
The use of AI in the PG print edition comes as the unfair labor practice (ULP) strikes against the company sit in their 16th month. Production, distribution and advertising workers commenced a ULP strike on Oct. 6, 2022, over the loss of their health care plan due to the PG’s lack of payment that amounted to $19 per week per worker. Newsroom workers commenced their own ULP strike on Oct. 18, 2022, in response to the PG’s years of bad-faith bargaining and unilateral gutting of their collective bargaining agreement.
Since the strike commenced, the PG has hired at least 26 strikebreaking replacement scab workers in the newsroom. This weekend’s use of AI to generate content covered by union jurisdiction is yet another slap in the face to workers’ rights at the newspaper.
“As the PG resists working with us to put an end to this strike, they continue to sink to new lows in an effort to crank out whatever product they can cobble together,” said Jen Kundrach, a PG page designer and illustrator on strike. “That they’ve resorted to the use of inferior, AI-generated images rather than custom art by a staff illustrator shows how little they must value the talent of their guild staff. They’d rather squander that talent and put out a subpar newspaper than come to the table and reach a fair agreement with us.”
Our return to work demands have remained the same throughout the strike:
- End the illegally declared impasse to contract negotiations.
- Undo the unilaterally imposed working conditions and reinstate the terms of the 2014-17 newsroom contract.
- Return to the contract bargaining table to reach a fair contract with the journalists represented by the NewsGuild.
- Meet the health care demands of our striking sister unions.
On Jan. 26, 2023, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge ruled overwhelming in favor of newsroom workers, ordering the company to rescind the unilateral working conditions it had imposed in 2020, and restore the union’s previous contract, which expired in 2017, as well as ordering the company to return to the bargaining table in a good-faith effort to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
Company attorneys told union workers at the bargaining table that they disagreed with the decision and would be appealing the ruling as far as they would be able to. The case is currently awaiting a decision from the five-person NLRB.
As the anniversary of the administrative law judge’s ruling approaches, striking workers will join other fighting union allies to discuss the barriers to success in U.S. labor law and its implementation, plus discuss how we will win the PG strike.
Supporters are encouraged to attend on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Union Hall, located at 10 South 19th Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203 in Pittsburgh’s South Side Flats neighborhood.
“If John and Allan Block, Stan Wischnowski, Tracey DeAngelo or any one else in PG management think that this fight is over, they are dead wrong,” Tanner said. “Workers on strike won’t stop fighting, because Pittsburgh deserves a newspaper created by union labor, not artificial intelligence or scab workers.”