By: Joe Strupp

Heavier Workload Caused By an Extra 60,000 Copies

With a new 15-year contract, a 37% raise by 2014, and plans for a spanking-new printing plant, you’d think the New York Post pressmen and the paper’s management would be getting along like old pals.

But a recent dispute over expanded press runs, alleged harassment of union officials, and allegations of a worker slowdown have sparked the New York Newspaper Printing Pressman’s Union No. 2 to file three grievances against the Post, while the newspaper has responded with a federal lawsuit.

“It’s not the way to go,” union President John Heffernan said of the recent developments. “They are making a mistake and causing a poor workplace attitude.”

John Amann, the Post’s vice president of labor relations, agreed that things had turned negative, but blamed the workers. “To think we are being held hostage by the pressmen is unconscionable,” he said.

The troubles began in early September when the Post boosted its daily press run by about 60,000 papers to meet higher demands following a newsstand price cut from 50 cents to 25 cents. Heffernan said management demanded that the press run be completed by the old 4 a.m. deadline, despite the larger run. Amann said the workers were given another 20 minutes or so to complete the work, but deliveries have been delayed by up to 90 minutes.

In addition, workers contend that one union official was unfairly demoted due to his union activities, while another was improperly suspended for allegedly disrupting work at the printing plant. Those actions caused the union to file three grievances one with the National Labor Relations Board.

Post management, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York this month seeking to stop the alleged worker slowdown and recoup monetary losses from the action.

The disputes came less than two months after members of the union, which represents 65 workers at the Post’s Manhattan printing plant, unanimously approved a new 15-year contract that gave them an immediate 4% raise, plus an additional 2% pay hike each year thereafter. The Post plans to open a new $250-million printing plant in the Bronx by mid-2001.

Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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