By: Joe Strupp
The former New England Patriots beat writer for The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, who in January was called back from the Super Bowl and later fired for allegedly plagiarizing a Sports Illustrated column, filed a grievance with the paper citing wrongful termination, according to a Newspaper Guild spokesman.
“The Guild filed a grievance with the Telegram & Gazette on Thursday at his request,” said Tim Schick, administrator for Guild Local 31041 in Providence, R.I., which represents employees at the paper. “I cannot comment any further.”
Ken Powers, a 20-year T&G veteran, lost his job on Feb. 3, three days before the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. He had been covering pre-game festivities in Jacksonville, Fla., during the prior weekend, but he returned to the paper’s office on Jan. 30 after editors called him back. They had received complaints that Powers’ Jan. 29 column included several elements of a previous Sports Illustrated column by Peter King.
After reviewing several columns and interviewing Powers, the paper fired him and announced that it would review hundreds of stories going back at least a year. Editors did not immediately return phone calls Friday seeking comment on the grievance and what the investigation had turned up in the past month.
Schick said the grievance procedure requires newspaper representatives to meet with the Guild and respond to Powers’ complaint formally. “We will discuss the situation, look at information related to the case, and see what conclusions we can draw from that,” Schick added.
Powers could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Guild may seek to determine if the paper followed its own procedures in investigating Powers and if his dismissal received the same treatment as any other employee. Schick said the grievance was filed now because the union wanted to take time to review the situation itself before proceeding.
“There was time involved in the union trying to ascertain details related to the case,” he said. “What the circumstance are, obtain documents, and other information.”