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Ahead Of Imminent Cuts, Future For Some At Post-Gazette Is Uncertain

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Sarah Kovash
/
90.5 WESA

Union leaders at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are getting a better sense of how many people will be laid off once the newspaper’s shortened printing schedule takes effect at the end of the month.

The once-daily newspaper, which employs people represented by multiple unions, announced in July that it will only print three days a week—Sunday, Thursday and Friday.

“I’ve been here for 50 years and I’ve never seen anything like this from this employer,” said Joe Molinero, president of Teamsters Local 211, whose union members deliver papers to drop off sites. “It’s just terrible.”

Molinero knew jobs in his unit would be cut after the July 18 announcement, but wasn’t sure how many people would lose their jobs. Now, he says it’s clear his unit is facing the most drastic cuts. He represents approximately 93 people, and 32 will be out of a job beginning October 1, when the shortened print schedule begins. 

For the remaining 61 members, he estimates about half will lose their health care on October 1. Under the new printing schedule, about half of his unit will work four-day work weeks, or 28 hours a week. The Post-Gazette says employees who work under 30 hours a week will not receive health care.

“I guarantee come October 1 they’ll all go look for other jobs,” said Molinero, who held a standing-room-only meeting with his members last week to talk about the cuts. “These guys they’re going to start getting rid of have over 20 years, 30 years, and even 40 years [of experience]. The guys with 40 years are going to be forced to retire.”

Four of the nearly two dozen pressmen positions are also expected to be cut. Those employees are responsible for printing the actual newspaper.

“We’re trying to save as many jobs as we can,” said Chris Lang, president of GCC IBT Local 24M/9N, the union that represents the pressmen.

According to a person familiar with the Post-Gazette's labor situation, 14 journalists have departed the organization since June, either by retiring, finding employment elsewhere, or without a job waiting for them. Managers were offered buyouts with a maximum of four months pay, but members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union that represents many newsroom employees, were not. 

Newsroom departures include: Liz Behrman, Dave Bennett, Mike Bodura, Rebecca Droke, Chris Huffaker, Jim Iovino, L.A. Johnson, Trevor Lenzmeier, Courtney Linder, Dave Molinari, Patrice Noel, Gary Rotstein, Joe Smydo and Sarah Spencer.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did not respond to a request for comment.