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 — 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 »

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:


That was the scene this afternoon inside 8th and Market, where Philadelphia Media Network maintains the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and 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

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

Journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and 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 »

Would Exhibitors Flee if Carpenters Returned to Convention Center?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

If the carpenters union returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Sue Hueg wants none of it.

Hueg, the vice president of events for National Business Media has seen it both ways — shows that involved the carpenters and one that didn’t. The difference between the two, she said, was unmistakable.

“They’re very difficult to work with, they’re back in the 1800s,” Hueg said of the carpenters and their work rules, which she said frequently forced exhibitors to unnecessarily rely on union labor to build convention displays that vendors could build themselves. That made convention-going in Philly both difficult and expensive, she said.

“We need hard-working, customer-service-oriented people who understand exhibitors are on a budget,” Hueg said. “This is not hard to understand.”  Read more »

The Brief: Carpenters Tell Democrats to Steer Clear of Convention Center


1. The Philadelphia carpenters union is asking Democrats to stay away from the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the party’s national convention here next year.

The gist: Last year, four labor unions signed onto new work rules at the convention center by management’s deadline. The carpenters union was not one of them, and it has been locked out ever since.

A spokesman for the carpenters explained that union leader Ed Coryell’s letter to Democrats is an attempt to ask “our allies to stand with [us].” Pete Peterson, a spokesman for the convention center, countered that carpenters union leadership is growing “desperate” and “just saving some face.” He also said the convention center has already scheduled events as part of the Democratic National Convention.

Read more »

Adjunct Instructors Plan March Today at Temple

Adjunct faculty members from colleges and universities around the city plan to march today on Temple University campus, where adjunct instructors are attempting to unionize.

The adjuncts — who teach classes, but who aren’t on the tenure track that offers job protections and the likelihood of continued employment — want to collectively bargain pay and benefits with the university.

NewsWorks reports:
Read more »

Why Do Teachers Get Snow Days?


UPDATE: Philadelphia school teacher Steve Clark has written a response to this column

Hey school teachers, I have an idea.

Instead of fighting the School Reform Commission and campaigning for a friendly governor and organizing your efforts for a sympathetic mayor and protesting at City Council meetings and complaining about contributing more to your health insurance and your pensions let me suggest another tactic: How about you actually go to work?

Even when it snows. Read more »

Convention Center Got Restraining Order Against Carpenters Union

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Members of Philadelphia’s carpenter’s union have been protesting outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center for months. On Saturday, the laborers took their message inside the center — directly to attendees of the Philadelphia Auto Show.

On that much, both sides agree. After that, there’s plenty of disagreement.

John J. McNichol, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, alleges that the 200-some-odd union members who entered the auto show were “disruptive” — vandalizing cars on display and acting belligerently.

“Some of them tried to intimidate our exhibitors,” McNichol said Monday morning.

Martin O’Rourke, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Council of Carpenters, rejected accusations of damage or bad behavior, saying the carpenters spent their time at the show “peacefully” handing out leaflets.

“No vandalism, no vandalism whatsoever,” O’Rourke said. “They were exerting their First Amendment right to protest. “

One fact not in dispute: On Sunday, a judge signed a restraining order commanding the union not to interfere with the show. Both sides stipulated to the order, which can be seen below (the order is erroneously dated 2014 rather than 2015).

Despite the incident, McNichol said, Saturday saw 60,000 people attend the auto show — its No. 1 attendance day ever. “This was far and away the smoothest show we’ve had,” he said.

Read more »

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