Back to Work: Guild Approves ‘Vindicator’ Contract, Ending 9-Month Strike

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Reporters, photographers, and truck drivers at the city’s newspaper narrowly approved a contract Wednesday, ending a nearly nine-month strike.

The workers voted 50-41 on the agreement with The Vindicator, said Debora Shaulis Flora, vice president of the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America Local 34011. Shaulis Flora said back-to-work issues were being resolved and that it could be a few days before workers return to their jobs.

Vindicator general manager Mark Brown said he expects the two sides to work through any remaining tension.

“You can’t have a nine-month strike without that, but we expect everyone to work in a very businesslike manner,” Brown said.

The strike began Nov. 16 and was the newspaper’s first walkout in 40 years, surpassing the length of the 256-day strike in 1964-65 by a few days. The dispute included allegations of vandalism and theft against the union and the newspaper.

The Vindicator, a 70,000 circulation daily that covers northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, announced last week that it would begin hiring permanent replacements. Brown said whether any would be hired would depend on how long it takes employees to get back to work.

The three-year contract includes raises of 1 1/3 percent in each year and bonuses of $400 in the first year and $200 in the second year for each employee.

Contract language regarding the newspaper’s ability to lay off workers was the final obstacle in negotiations. The union no longer has as much protection, but it still has the ability to challenge the newspaper over layoffs, Shaulis Flora said.

“We gave things, but we achieved some things,” she said.

A second union that went on strike, Teamsters Local 473, which represents 24 mailroom employees, ratified a contract in January.

The Vindicator continued to publish during the strike with temporary replacement workers. Striking workers produced their own newspaper.

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