Union settles extended strike with Pittsburgh newspaper, while journalists, other unions remain out

Apr 15, 2024, 10:36 AM | Updated: 1:20 pm

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The union that represents a Pittsburgh newspaper’s truck drivers, one of five unions that have been on strike for 18 months, has approved a new contract with the paper’s owners. Four other unions, including one representing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s journalists and other newsroom employees, have not settled.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the remaining members of Teamsters Local 211/205 voted unanimously to accept a labor dispute settlement agreement and dissolve their union at the newspaper. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the newspaper reported that it substantially resolves all strike-related issues and health care, including any outstanding National Labor Relations Board actions.

The newspaper declined further comment on the matter.

Four other unions at the Post-Gazette — including the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents reporters, photographers and other newsroom employees — are not part of the settlement and remain on strike. The Communications Workers of America represents the other Post-Gazette workers still on strike, including the mailers, advertising staff, and the journalists at the Pittsburgh Newspaper Guild.

CWA officials said they were disheartened by the Teamsters’ settlement.

“It’s beyond disappointing that the Teamsters would abandon their fellow strikers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss said in a statement posted on the union’s website. “We stood with the Teamsters: in the cold, in the rain, in the snow, and in the face of violent scab truck drivers and aggressive police. We will continue to strike and hold the employer to account.”

CWA District 2-13 Vice President Mike Davis added, “Their decision to prioritize greed over solidarity with their fellow union members is not only disappointing but also a betrayal of the values that we hold dear in the labor movement.”

The Teamster local and the three other non-newsroom unions went on strike in October 2022, and they were joined by the Newspaper Guild members two weeks later. The Post-Gazette hired replacement employees, while the striking newspaper guild members have been producing their own newspaper, the Pittsburgh Union Progress, during the strike.

Joe Barbano, a trustee and business agent for the Teamsters local, told WESA that the union was backed into a corner, noting its membership had fallen from around 150 to just 30 when the strike began.

“A majority of (the remaining members) said we would take some type of a settlement, we’ll move on with our lives,” Barbano said. “And that’s what we did.”

Barbano said his local had presented the idea for this settlement about six months ago to the other unions but they other didn’t move on it, so the Teamsters decided to move forward on their own. He acknowledged the Teamsters negotiated in secret from the other unions on strike, saying it was because the Post-Gazette made that a requirement.

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Union settles extended strike with Pittsburgh newspaper, while journalists, other unions remain out