Union at Pittsburgh Paper Cites ‘Difficult’ Contract Talks

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Union employees at the financially-ailing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said they are optimistic about ongoing labor talks, but want the public to know the situation is serious.

“We’re in difficult contract talks right now. We’re hoping we can count on public support to get a fair contract,” columnist Brian O’Neill told about 100 employees Monday outside the newspaper offices.

The paper’s owners said in September that they are prepared to sell the 220-year-old newspaper if its 14 unions don’t agree to new contracts that would significantly cut costs and change work rules by year’s end.

“We’re flexible,” O’Neill said. “We’re ready to talk about everything.”

The Post-Gazette has lost $23 million since 2003 and must get union concessions, the newspaper has said. This year, the paper projects a $20 million operating loss.

Newspapers nationwide are “under severe pressure to change their cost structure to become more efficient and competitive,” the paper’s director of marketing Tracey DeAngelo said in a statement.

Mike Bucsko, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, said: “We have to find a compromise to survive. But we can’t give up fundamental rights of the work place we’ve fought decades for.”

The Post-Gazette is owned by Block Communications, which also owns The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, where the company is engaged in a bitter battle with its unions.

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