Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers call for subscribers, advertisers to boycott the paper
Workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are asking subscribers and advertisers to boycott the newspaper.
Employees represented by the Communications Workers of America and other staff areon strike following the expiration of their health insurance coverage on Oct. 1.
Union members said their decision to make a boycott request wasn’t taken lightly, but they felt they had no other choice after years of stalled negotiations with management.
“For the first time in my adult life, along with the other 13 members that I represent, I wake up every morning without health care,” John Clark, the president of Mailers Union Local 22, said at a press conference Thursday. “And I’d like to tell you that’s a very uncomfortable feeling in today’s world.”
More than 40 other unionized employees have also been affected by the cut. They said Block Communications refused to pay an additional $19 a week per employee to maintain the existing coverage. Joseph Pass, an attorney for the unions, said the health insurance included a high deductible.
“We’re down to the situation now where the employees are paying now out of their pockets over $7,200 a year for their healthcare. These employees haven’t had a raise in 16 years,” said Pass.
Clark said the unions have “made a lot of concessions to keep the newspaper going,” including forgoing raises.
“Now, with that cost structure, we just can’t afford to continue to pay the increases that they ask to maintain the healthcare premiums. It’s just not possible.”
"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offered several proposals to rectify the healthcare situation, one of which included a 9% wage increase and enrollment in the company’s healthcare plan. None of these options were accepted by union leadership. The company healthcare plan currently covers 2,600 Block Communications employees, including several unions, company executives and staff at the PG," Post-Gazette marketing director Allison Latcheran said in a statement.
“The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will continue to serve the Pittsburgh community, its readers and advertisers by publishing seven days a week. We welcome our employees back at any time.”
The unions are asking subscribers and advertisers to continue the boycott until they get a “fair deal.” Pass said if advertisers continue to work with the Post-Gazette, the union will ask the public to boycott the advertisers as well.