Labor unrest continues at Detroit papers p.16

By: Editorial Staff IT'S BEEN FOUR months since 2,500 union workers walked off their jobs at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, but labor unrest shows no signs of calming down.
Among the developments in recent days:
? The unions launched a weekly paper, the Detroit Sunday Journal, on Nov. 19.
The nonprofit paper, funded by the Metropolitan Council of Newspaper Unions and other unions, will have a distribution of 300,000, the unions said.
The Free Press quoted this reaction from Frank Vega, chief executive officer of Detroit Newspapers, the agency that runs production and business operations of both dailies: "Good. Let them see how much newsprint costs."
? Detroit Newspapers filed a RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit against the six striking unions, alleging the strikers have used violence and intimidation during the strike.
"The newspaper unions commenced and have continued a campaign to threaten, intimidate and harass carriers and others doing business with DNA (Detroit Newspapers Agency) and have engaged in an ongoing pattern of acts of extortion, robbery, arson and interference with commerce," the lawsuit states.
A spokesman for the union coalition said it would have no immediate comment.
The management lawsuit is, in effect, a countersuit to the $30 million suit the unions filed against Detroit Newspapers on Oct. 2. That suit alleged management conspired with its private-security companies and the Sterling Heights, Mich., police to "intimidate and harass" strikers.
? Violence continues to be a weekend routine at the gates of the newspapers' several distribution centers. On Nov. 1, a pipe bomb exploded in a Detroit Free Press vending box and a second pipe bomb was found undetonated in another honor box the same night. Vandalism disables an average of 2,000 honor boxes every week, Detroit Newspapers officials say.
The papers operate about 7,500 boxes in the metropolitan Detroit area.


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