‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ Reaches Agreement With 11 Unions

By: E&P Staff

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would have labor peace for the next three years under tentative contract agreements reached this weekend with 11 labor unions.

Terms of the agreements were not released, but the Post-Gazette reported Sunday in an article by Anya Sostek that union leaders said the bargaining units had made “enormous financial sacrifices.”

Voting on the pacts — which cover the newspaper’s 1,042 union employees — will take place within the next two weeks.

In the negotiations, the newspaper emphasized its financial difficulties, saying it faced a $20 million loss for 2006 with little prospect of a turnaround in flat circulation and declining advertising.

“These agreements are a collaborative effort by management and the unions to ensure the financial viability of the Post-Gazette,” Post-Gazette President David Beihoff told the paper. “If ratified, the agreements would begin to achieve realistic savings and efficiencies while enabling the Post-Gazette to continue its 220-year tradition of producing a trusted, high-quality news product.”

The Toledo, Ohio-based Block family told the unions last summer that it was prepared to sell the paper if it could not realize significant savings with new labor contracts. Management has locked out about a third of its unionized employees at the family’s flagship Toledo Blade.

“When we entered these negotiations, we were cognizant of the Post-Gazette’s difficult financial situation and were determined to assist as much as possible in placing the newspaper on sound financial footing,” the Pittsburgh Newspaper Unions Unity Council, which represents the 11 unions, said in a statement.

The union group also said its efforts to reach agreement were “a token of our appreciation and the deep respect we all have for the late William Block” and the Block family.

“The employees at the Post-Gazette and their union leadership have never forgotten that 15 years ago after a prolonged labor dispute, the late William Block Sr., then chairman of the Post-Gazette, rescued hundreds of union employees and preserved vital newspaper jobs to make the Post-Gazette the leading voice in news in southwestern Pennsylvania,” the unity council statement said.

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