Newspaper Strike Authorization Vote Set for June 3rd

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The Newspaper Guild will vote June 3rd whether or not to authorize a strike against Philadelphia Media Network, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

Guild members were notified today that the secret-ballot vote will take place between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday at Loews Hotel, 12th and Market streets. Members unable to vote in person can cast their ballots by email. (See the full memo below.)

The question before guild members:

1) Yes, I authorize the Guild executive board to begin strike preparations
or
2) No, I do not authorize the Guild executive board to begin strike preparations

Read more »

Could Philly Newspapers Survive a Strike?

The Newspaper Guild has already printed picket signs in case of a possible strike.

The Newspaper Guild has already printed picket signs in case of a possible strike.

Philadelphia’s two major daily papers — the Inquirer and Daily News, along with their online cousin Philly.com — have survived one calamity after another over the past decade: A radical decline in revenues and circulation, bankruptcy, repeated changes of ownership and repeated airings of dirty laundry.

But can they survive a strike by the Newspaper Guild?

As others have noted, newspaper strikes used to hit this town all the time. But that was back when the newspaper industry was relatively flush. These days? Not so much the case. Yes, employees at Philadelphia Media Network are getting a profit-sharing check this year, but nobody would argue that the business, in Philly and elsewhere, is anything but fragile, and perhaps brittle.

Which raises a question for the journalists, ad sales personnel, circulation and support staffers who are now contemplating walking off the job: Would they have a job to return to?

Outside observers aren’t so sure. Read more »

PMN Promises Newspapers Will Continue If Guild Strikes

The company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com says it will continue to deliver the news even if the Newspaper Guild that journalists and other support staffers goes on strike.

The pledge by Philadelphia Media Network came in a Wednesday memorandum to employees, detailing progress it had made in negotiations with other unions at the company. The full memo is below.

Even if the guild strikes, the memo says, “we will continue to print and deliver important news, interesting features and valuable online content to serve the readers, subscribers and advertisers of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.”

A guild strike authorization vote could come next week. The contract between the union and PMN expires June 27.

See the full text: Read more »

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

Shutterstock.com

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 »

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