First contract reached since '95 Detroit strike p.9

By: Mark Fitzgerald Composing room employees represented by International Typographical Union (ITU) Local 18 were to vote Sunday on the first contract agreement to emerge since 2,500 workers from six unions walked off their job at Detroit's daily newspapers in the summer of 1995.
Detroit Newspapers, which runs business and production operations for the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, reached the agreement with the typographers after a series of meetings with state and federal mediators.
"We worked very hard to reach this agreement, and we look forward to reaching agreements with the five other unions," Frank Vega, president and CEO of Detroit Newspapers, says of the agreement reached Feb. 5. Neither Vega nor Sam Attard, president of the ITU local that represents 130 workers at the papers, would discuss details of the tentative agreement. Federal mediator Brian Flores, who could not be reached, has imposed a gag order on both sides in the continuing negotiations.
It was unclear whether the agreement includes wage and benefits terms, which all six unions had agreed to bargain jointly through the Metropolitan Council of Newspaper Unions.
A Free Press story by business writer Charlotte W. Craig quotes mediator Flores as saying the tentative pact included wage and benefit agreements, but the contract was not negotiated "behind the back" of the Metropolitan Council.
The Free Press reported the contract includes a "me too" clause that would allow the ITU to benefit from any better deal negotiated by the other unions. The contract also includes a $70,000 buyout offer for about 90 typographers with lifetime employment guarantees, the story says.
Sunday's ITU vote comes exactly two years after the six unions ? who had failed to stop a single day's publication during the strike ? made an unconditional offer to return to work. Because the two papers and its agency have vowed not to discharge the hundreds of permanent replacements hired during the strike, at least 600 former strikers have not returned to work. Except for about 20 workers who were either part-time or fired for alleged misconduct during the strike, all ITU members have returned to work.
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