Representatives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette met briefly Thursday with representatives of four striking unions to discuss the effects of the company’s decision to close its Clinton printing plant and offices. The bottom line, the unions were told, is that the PG no longer will need to employ press workers or mailers because it is not going to print its own newspapers — or any papers before long.

The unions already knew. The PG had notified them by letters in May that it plans to terminate its lease at the Findlay facility, remove the massive press and vacate by the end of July 2025 while going all in on its longtime business plan to deliver its news products digitally.

Thursday’s “effects bargaining” in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott in Moon (neither side had booked a meeting room) was a legally required session between the company and these bargaining units that will be affected to varying degrees.

Four unions — representing the pressmen and mailers and some advertising workers, or typos, who usually work at Clinton as well as the journalists who usually work out of the PG’s North Shore offices (with some typos) — have been on strike for more than 20 months.

During that time, the PG has been producing its papers with nonstriking workers and printing them — on Thursdays and Sundays — not at Clinton but rather at the Butler Eagle in Butler and then distributing them by independent contractors.

Attorney Richard Lowe, representing the PG with its director of operations Rob Weber, told the union reps what the company had told at least some of them earlier this year: that the PG plans to “sunset,” or stop, one day of print papers probably before the end of 2024 and the last remaining day at some point, too.

“We’re going to be a totally digital newspaper,” Lowe reiterated. In the meantime, printing is “temporarily” continuing at Butler — about 25,000 papers on Thursdays and 38,000 on Sundays — even though Lowe said there is no contract between the PG and the Butler Eagle to do so. “We don’t have any contract with them, and they don’t have any contract with us.”

The future is digital customers, of which the PG now has about 50,000, Weber said.

Closing Clinton is a separate issue from the strike, but it does affect the same unions, all of which have filed federal labor law charges against the company. Most affected by the closing would be the eight press workers and 15 mailers (10 full-time and five part-time) who, pre-strike, made the papers at Clinton. Their union contracts do not have severance clauses.

The unions’ attorney, Joe Pass, asked several times what would happen if in the meantime strikers were to return to work, either by proposing that on their own or via a court injunction that the journalists are expecting. “Where do we return?”

Pass also asked, as he has been for years now, when specifically the PG planned to end each remaining day of print.

Lowe said he could not say specifically, nor could he even say how quickly the press would be removed from Clinton — only that for the PG to be able to terminate its lease early, that rented space has to be completely empty by Aug. 1, 2025, and so Weber is starting the process now. The timetable could depend on if a buyer wants to use the press, which the PG debuted with some fanfare in the fall of 2014, or scrap it and when.

Representing the typos, local Communications Workers of America rep Jon Remington asked Lowe and Weber several specific questions about those workers and their work and if and where they would do it for the digital products once Clinton closed.

Lowe and Weber did say that some Clinton ad workers might move to the North Shore, but since space is limited there and the lease for those offices is up at the end of 2025, the company also might choose to move to a new location that would have room for the workforce. “There’ll be some kind of brick-and-mortar,” Weber said. Meanwhile, the digital product will continue to evolve and change.

“I look forward to bargaining those changes with you, Richard,” Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner said to Lowe.

The other union reps had chances to ask questions and make comments, as well, but by the time the session wrapped up in just under an hour at 12:40 p.m., many questions remained.

Repeating that it is necessary information for the unions to have and to act on, Pass told the company representatives to tell the unions “as soon as you know” when print editions are going to end.

“We will,” said Lowe.

The two sides agreed that there was no need to schedule more effects bargaining for Friday but also agreed to resume, without saying when, separate negotiations over the strike, which have not happened substantively with all the unions since September 2023. “We’d be glad to,” Lowe said.

All the production workers went on strike on Oct. 6, 2022, over a dispute over their health care coverage. The journalists went on their own unfair labor practice strike that Oct. 18. In the journalists’ case, the company has not budged in strike negotiations from the terms of conditions it unilaterally — and illegally, according to a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge — imposed in the summer of 2020, including the company health care plan it wanted to impose on the other unions.

Meanwhile, one union local, representing the transportation workers, ended its strike in return for buyout payments this past April, and the union dissolved — an action that many strikers and their leaders and supporters consider to be a backstabbing betrayal of them as well as labor in general.

Press workers union President Chris Lang asked Lowe, “What precipitated the buyout to the Teamsters?”

Lowe said, “We jointly decided that it was time to end the strike,” in great part because the transportation workers came to realize the PG no longer needs them to deliver newspapers. “We were very pleased that we were able to amicably work out a deal with the Teamsters. They’re good folks.”

Lang asked about a (not publicized) buyout offer the pressmen’s union gave to the company three months ago, but Lowe told him that was “an economic concession we’re not willing to make,” adding to Lang’s f-bomb-laced frustration that’s been building since even before the unions’ last contracts expired in 2017. He’s not the only person who feels that way.

Pass told the union leaders that he would prepare a meeting for them next week to discuss their next steps.

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