No Strike: Newspaper Guild, PMN Reach Tentative Agreement

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There will be no Philadelphia newspaper strike after all.

On Friday night — after an exhausting 11-hour negotiating session with a federal mediator, and 25 hours before their contract was set to expire — the Newspaper Guild and Philadelphia Media Network announced they had reached a “tentative agreement” on a two-year contract.

The Guild represents journalists, ad sales people, and other support staffers at Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. Read more »

Newspaper Strike Countdown: Scenes From Today’s Rally

Photos by Joel Mathis

Photos by Joel Mathis

Tick, tock.

Hundreds of Newspaper Guild members marched during a noontime rally Thursday at the Market Street office of Philadelphia Media Network, chanting demands for a fair contract as the clock ticked down on just more than two days left before the current work agreement expires. Read more »

PMN to Journalists: Here’s How You Can Cross Picket Lines

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.

With a possible strike by the Newspaper Guild looming, Philadelphia Media Network today sent employees a memo apparently aimed at getting them — or at least a few of them — to stay on the job during a walkout.

Yes, you can keep working if a strike is called, said the memo from the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. We’ll provide security and a safe way to report in to your managers. And if you’re worried about being fined by the Newspaper Guild for crossing the picket line — well, here’s a template for a letter you can send that exempts you from most responsibilities that come with union membership.

And, oh yeah, if you do walk out? Don’t necessarily expect to come back, ever. Read more »

Lenfest to Journalists: Newspapers Aren’t A Charity

lenfest  inquirer

Gerry Lenfest may be one of Philly’s foremost philanthropists, but he’s not going to treat the newspapers he owns like a charity.

That was the message Lenfest, owner of Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — sent to employees this morning as negotiations continue between PMN and the Newspaper Guild race toward this weekend’s expiration of the contract between the two.

“I have given substantial donations over the years to charitable institutions,” Lenfest wrote in a memo emailed to all of the company’s employees. “PMN is not a charity but rather it is a business, and as such it must be self-sustainable.”

The Guild’s leadership shot back in a memo of its own:

“For us, this company has been a charity. We have lost our pension. We haven’t had a raise in six years. In fact, we have given back raises. We have paid more for health care because the company has not increased its contribution in 15 years,” they wrote, and added: “The company negotiators do not appreciate these sacrifices. They won’t even acknowledge them.”

Read more »

Newspaper Guild Plans Thursday Rally

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.

Negotiations between Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild are apparently going down to the wire.

The two sides reportedly for 11 hours with a federal mediator on Monday, but left appearing little closer to a deal. The current contract between the two sides expires this weekend, and the guild — which includes the journalists of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, as well as members of the advertising, circulation and finance departments — could choose to strike at that time.

Before then, however, workers plan a lunchtime rally on Thursday outside PMN’s Market Street offices, with city and national labor leaders on hand to show their support. Read more »

(Update) Lenfest Vows to Publish If Journos Strike

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

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

(Updated at 7:08 p.m. with Newspaper Guild response.)

The man who owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com vowed Thursday to keep publishing if journalists and other workers at those organizations go on strike.

“In the event of a strike, we remain committed to continuing to operate both digitally and in print and will continue to take the steps necessary to address the significant economic challenges that face us and our industry,” Gerry Lenfest, the publisher and owner of Philadelphia Media Network, said in a memorandum distributed to PMN’s employees. Read more »

Newspaper Guild Votes to Begin Strike Preparations

Newspaper Guild leaders Regina Medina and Diane Mastrull, left, count paper ballots for strike authorization, while Bill Ross and Howard Gensler, right, tally up e-mailed votes. The action took place  Wednesday night on the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel. (Picture: Joel Mathis)

Newspaper Guild leaders Regina Medina and Diane Mastrull, left, count paper ballots for strike authorization, while Bill Ross and Howard Gensler, right, tally up e-mailed votes. The action took place Wednesday night on the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel. (Pictures: Joel Mathis)

The Newspaper Guild on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to begin preparations for a strike against Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

There were two votes — one by employees of the newspapers, and one by workers for Philly.com, who have a separate but similar contract with PMN. Neither vote was particularly close: 263-19 in favor of strike preparations by so-called “main unit” employees; 24-7 in favor by Philly.com workers. Sixty-nine percent of guild membership voted.

“It wasn’t unanimous,” said Howard Gensler, the guild’s president and a gossip columnist for the Daily News, “but it was a very strong, supportive vote we hope sends a message to the company we’re not fooling around.” Read more »

PMN to Newspaper Guild Members: Strike and We Stop Paying You

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.

[Updated at 8 p.m. with comment from the Newspaper Guild]

Philadelphia Media Network on Tuesday informed Newspaper Guild employees what they’ll lose if they go out on strike — pay, health benefits, and maybe even unemployment compensation.

“The Company will stop contributing to your health and welfare benefits immediately,” Keith Black, the vice president of human resources, said in a widely distributed memo obtained by Philly Mag. “It is possible that you will have to pay the full cost of your benefits if you would like them to continue.”  Read more »

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 »

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 »

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