Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers who went on strike more than a week ago after losing their health care coverage are calling on people to pull their print and online subscriptions to the newspaper to show support for the striking workers.
The workers urged businesses and organizations to pull their advertisements from the Post-Gazette.
“We are asking, begging people in this community, to stop their subscriptions and pull their advertisements,” said attorney Joseph Pass at a news conference Thursday on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Those on strike belong to unions representing production, distribution and advertising workers at the Post-Gazette.
“We don’t like this and we don’t take this lightly,” said Pass, who represents the unions. “We are out here not because we are looking for a raise, but because we don’t have health care.”
The Post-Gazette has not printed any editions since the strike started.
Before the strike, the paper had been printing two days a week, with eventual plans to go all digital. However, Pass said workers have been given no information on when eliminating print editions might occur.
Pass said the roughly 60 production, distribution and advertising workers on strike have not had a raise in 16 years.
When their union health care was set to renew at the start of October, it included a $19 per-worker monthly increase. Pass said management refused to take on the extra payment and refused to negotiate, insisting that the workers join the company health care plan.
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He said that included steep increases in premiums and large out-of-pocket costs that workers couldn’t afford.
Pass said the strike will end when health care is reestablished and management comes to the negotiating table.
Post-Gazette spokeswoman Allison Latcheran said the paper offered several proposals, one of which included a 9% wage increase and enrollment in the company’s health care plan. The plan covers 2,600 workers at Block Communications, which owns the Post-Gazette. She said union leaders rejected the proposals from management.
“The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will continue to serve the Pittsburgh community, its readers and advertisers by publishing seven days a week,” she said.
The striking workers have gathered support from several local unions and many Democratic politicians, including state Reps. Dan Miller, Emily Kinkead and Dan Deasy, all of whom attended Thursday’s news conference.
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union that represents editorial workers at the Post-Gazette, is on a byline strike in support of the production staff. Guild president Zack Tanner says the guild supports everything the striking workers are calling for.
John Clark, president of Mailers Local 22 union, has worked at the Post-Gazette for 45 years. He said workers have made a lot of concessions to management over the decades, as print days were cut and workers went without raises. Clark said losing health care was too much.
“I have been a loyal employee and I have contributed to their success,” he said. “But I also wake up every morning without health care, and that is a very uncomfortable position. We need your support.
“This is Allegheny County and workers shouldn’t be treated this way.”
Ryan Deto is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Ryan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .