Inquirer Journalists Launch Health Care Petition

newspaper guild

Members of the Newspaper Guild negotiating committee.

Members of the Newspaper Guild have launched a petition to pressure the Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — to improve its health care proposals to the company’s journalists.

The Change.org petition had 129 signatures as of 8 a.m. today. A strike authorization vote by Guild workers is expected the first week of June. Read more »

UPDATE: Newspaper Journos Agree to Temporary Contract Extension

Updated with comment from the Newspaper Guild.

A possible strike by Philadelphia’s newspaper journalists has been averted, for at least a month: The union that represents them and Philadelphia Media Network, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, have agreed to extend their expiring contract to June 27. The contract had been set to expire Saturday night.

Read more »

PHOTO: Philadelphia Newspaper Strike a Real Possibility

See updates below with PMN’s memorandum to journalists, and the guild’s commentary on that memo.

[Original] We’re still waiting to hear back on the progress of today’s scheduled negotiations between the Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild, but we received some photographic evidence this afternoon that the guild is serious about its intent to call a strike authorization vote next week:

philadelphia-newspaper-strike-940x540

That was the scene this afternoon inside 8th and Market, where Philadelphia Media Network maintains the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. The guild represents journalists at those outlets. Our tipster was clear: No strike has been called as yet. But the signs have been printed. Read more »

Newspaper Strike Vote Possible Next Week

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Shutterstock.com

Updated at 8:50 p.m. with comment from Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild.

Journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com could vote as soon as next Wednesday whether to authorize a strike against the company.

Negotiators for the Newspaper Guild, which represents those journalists, said in a Wednesday evening memorandum that an impasse over seniority and health care costs continue, and that they will not extend the guild’s contract with the company when it expires this weekend.

“The company’s offer for main unit employees now stands at: No raises, higher healthcare costs for worse coverage and weakened seniority,” negotiators said.

“If we can’t reach an agreement, please check your email over the weekend regarding what to do Monday should the contract expire Sunday night and be prepared for a Strike Authorization vote on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.”

“Our negotiating team is continuing to work with the mediator and Guild to try to find solutions to the remaining issues,” Amy Buckman, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Network, said in an email to Philadelphia magazine. PMN owns all three news organizations.

How realistic is a strike threat? “I’ve never seen the membership more mobilized in the 15 years I’ve been here with the guild,” Bill Ross, the guild’s executive director, said Wednesday night.  He said guild members would “never accept” the company’s current health insurance proposal.

“They’re done making any type of concessions,” he said of his membership. “Our members won’t be able to survive if the company gets what it’s looking for.”

Read more »

Inky Union Says Strike Authorization Vote Possible

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

[Update 7:20 p.m.] Stan Wischnowski, vice president of news operations for Philadelphia Media Network, responds by email: “We don’t agree at all with how the Guild has characterized these negotiations through their bulletins. We recognize that there are important issues still to be resolved and we’re working very diligently to find solutions that will better position the company and our employees for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

[Original 5:46 p.m.] The union that represents journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com says it’s ready to call for a strike authorization vote if bargaining doesn’t produce a breakthrough in the next week.

“Our final scheduled mediation session is Wednesday morning,” the Newspaper Guild’s negotiating committee said in a Friday afternoon memorandum to its members at the Philadelphia Media Network. (See the full memorandum below.) “If the company again refuses to come with anything concrete to discuss, our only alternatives will be the filing of an Unfair Labor Practice charge and a strike authorization vote.”

A spokesman for Philadelphia Media Network did not return repeated calls for comment. Read more »

WATCH: This Is Why the Philly.com Comments Are Changing

Here are reporters from the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com reading comments on their stories at Philly.com. It’s funny and sad and, well, watch:

That actually seems tame and merely insulting, instead of dangerously racist and idiotic, but still: It’s a sampling of the stuff reporters at the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com deal with every day. Read more »

The Brief: The Inquirer* Endorses Anthony Williams, Philly Mag Endorses Jim Kenney*

media endorsements

Photos by Jeff Fusco.

1. Philadelphia magazine’s editors endorsed the “New” Jim Kenney for mayor, while the Inquirer (or at least Inquirer editor Bill Marimow) chose Anthony Williams.

The gist: The magazine’s endorsement reads:

To a large extent, the fundamental question of the current election is this: If elected, which of the two Jim Kenneys would show up in the mayor’s office? The Jim Kenney who’d lead us forward? Or the Jim Kenney who’d send us careening backwards to the bad old days of city government?

Frustratingly, the last few months haven’t really given us a definitive answer. Indeed, in many ways we’ve gotten the campaign we feared we’d get — largely uninspiring, devoid of big visions, creative ideas and concrete solutions to Philadelphia’s biggest problems. (It says something that the most crafted and thought-through plan for school funding has come from a non-candidate, Sam Katz, who’s only likely to jump into the race if Tony Williams wins the Democratic primary and Katz can mount a credible charge as an independent.)

Still, Jim Kenney has shown enough in this campaign to make us believe that of the candidates before us, he’s the best choice….

Jim Kenney feels right for this moment — a man who can continue Philadelphia’s transformation from old to new because he himself has transformed from old to new.

Read more »

Lenfest Announces Profit-Sharing for Inquirer, Daily News Workers

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest told workers at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com they will receive a profit-sharing check. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Full-time employees of the city’s two major daily newspapers will receive a $903 profit-sharing check, publisher Gerry Lenfest said in a memorandum today. But the seemingly good news quickly became a point of contention in the negotiations between management and the union that represents the company’s journalists.

Interstate General Media — the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — has gone to mediation in its negotiations on a new contract with the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents journalists at all three shops. The guild says the company is asking for concessions that could cost each employee thousands of dollars apiece. Read more »

Union: Three Sticking Points in Inquirer/Newspaper Guild Negotiations

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Shutterstock.com

The company that owns Philly’s biggest daily newspapers is seeking a mediator to help resolve contract negotiations with the union that represents most of its journalists.

Howard Gensler and Bill Ross, president and executive director of the Newspaper Guild, said in a Tuesday memorandum to their constituents that negotiations with Interstate General Media — the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — were foundering over several issues: Read more »

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