Inquirer Journalists Launch Health Care Petition

Trying to bring public pressure to bear in negotiations with Philadelphia Media Network.

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 — to improve its health care proposals to the company’s journalists.

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

“Employees have given up raises and accepted unpaid furloughs, loss of pension benefits, and higher contributions for health care for years,” the petition says. Without increased company contributions to the fund, employees with families could end up paying $12,500 in annual deductions.

“Given (PMN owner GerryLenfest’s philanthropic generosity, would he want to condemn his own employees to conditions reminiscent of 19th Century sweatshops, at a time when the company has enjoyed three consecutive years of positive cash flow?” the petition asks.

Company officials have said they are willing to increase contributions to the fund; guild officials have said those new contributions essentially come from the pockets of PMN workers.