(en) Detroit Lock-Out update

Andrew Flood (ANFLOOD@macollamh.ucd.ie)
Tue, 08 Apr 1997 11:42:54 +0100 (BST)

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From: Flora Tristan <tristan@iww.org>


Update on what is happening in the strike/lockout in Detroit from the Detroit Sunday Journal.

Action! Motown '97

Join us for a Solidarity Day June 20, 21st.

daymon j. hartley former striker/locked-out newspaper photographer (Actmotown@aol.com )to request more information on the march! -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, April 6, 1997

Unions' injunction bid makes it to Washington


By Alan Forsyth Journal Staff Writer

The National Labor Relations Board in Washington now has the newspaper unions' request for an injunction that would compel the Detroit newspapers to take back most of its 2,000 locked-out workers.

If NLRB General Counsel Frederick Feinstein decides the 10(j) injunction should be sought, he will ask the board to approve. Then regional director William Schaub in Detroit will be directed to seek the injunction in U.S. District Court.

Ellen A. Farrell, assistant general counsel and chief of the NLRB's injunction litigation branch, declined to estimate how long it would take for the board to decide. David Radtke said he and other attorneys for the unions believe the Washington deliberations probably will take no longer than did Schaub's investigation of the request for an injunction, which the unions filed Feb. 21.

Schaub said last Tuesday he had completed his investigation and was sending the matter to Washington. Though he made a recommendation to the general counsel, he did not reveal it. That's standard practice, said Farrell.

In terms of the number of union workers involved, this case would be one of the largest in which the so-called 10(j) injunction has been granted, she said.

The injunction, if approved, would not apply to union members fired for picket-line misconduct.

Blackout weakens

WRIF (101-FM), one of nine radio stations that refused to broadcast ads in support of locked-out workers, probably will do so, says a Washington agency placing the ads.

The agency approached the 10 largest stations in the Detroit market, but only WXYT-AM (1270) accepted the ads. Most stations gave no reason for the rejection. Detroit Newspapers, The Detroit News and the Free Press have been advertising heavily on radio.

A handful return

A few more locked-out workers returned to Detroit Newspapers and the Free Press last week. But less than 50 of nearly 2,000 workers have returned, and many who went back were forced to accept lower wages.

Two reporters started at the Free Press. Eight members of Detroit Typographical Union Local 18 returned to Detroit Newspapers, the agency that handles production, circulation and business matters for the News and Free Press.

Eight press operators and two paper handlers, members of GCIU 13N, also went in. "It's a lot different from prestrike," said GCIU Local 13N president Jack Howe. "They are not letting them exercise any seniority rights concerning picking hours, shifts or jobs."

Nine from Teamsters Local 372 returned, leaving 900 members still out. But not a single mailer from Teamsters Local 2040 has been asked back, leaving out 300 full-time and 300 part-time workers.

No one from GCIU Local 289 has returned, but nine photoengravers are to go back Monday.

Giles' wiles

The Detroit News, under Publisher Robert Giles, is resisting integration. It still has not taken back even one locked-out worker.

The News offered jobs to three workers who declined or postponed their decisions. Two of them said they preferred to return when all other locked-out workers return.

No offers have been made to Newspaper Guild members within commuting distance.

If there are few vacancies for reporters or copy editors, it may have something to do with a spate of hirings and promotions the week that it became known the return-to-work offer was about to be made.

Three reporters and three copy editors were hired. Three editorial assistants, a librarian and an intern were promoted to reporters.

Most of the hires and promotions were to become effective after Feb. 17, the day the Newspaper Guild formally made its offer to return.

"They were packing the newsroom when they knew an unconditional offer was being made," said Guild Local 22 President Lou Mleczko. He said an unfair labor practice charge would be filed.

Illegal discharges

Hearings begin Monday in the first of dozens of cases of locked-out workers who the government said were illegally discharged by the Free Press, News and Detroit Newspapers.

About 30 workers are in the first group that officials at the National Labor Relations Board allege were discharged for suspect reasons.

A federal complaint against the newspapers charges the workers were not discharged because of reasons the company gave, but because they engaged in "concerted, protected union activities," said William Schaub, regional NLRB director.

He said the company also engaged in "disparate treatment" of strikers and replacements by "coming down hard on a striker and not being as hard on a replacement or someone else," Schaub said.

The trial begins at 11 a.m. in Room 300 of the McNamara Federal Building, at Michigan and Cass avenues in Detroit.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Beddow Jr. will hear the case. Attor-ney John Adam, who represents the Guild and GCIU Local 13N, estimates the trial will last three weeks.

Antitrust suit zapped

A U.S. district judge decided last week for the defendants in an antitrust suit against Detroit Newspapers, The Detroit News and the Free Press.

Detroit City Council President Maryann Mahaffey, former Mayor Coleman A. Young, Detroit City Council Member Sheila Cockrel and five others had sued over the joint weekday editions that the News and Free Press printed the first two months of the strike.

Judge John Corbett O'Meara's decision to grant summary judgment means that neither discovery (pretrial fact-finding) nor a trial will be held. Wrote O'Meara: "Defendants' publication of a joint-masthead newspaper for two months during the strike was not anticompetitive behavior but an attempt by defendants to continue editorial competition between The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press in the face of severe staff shortages. Such efforts to prevent the temporary or permanent disappearance of one or more editorial voices does not give rise to an antitrust injury."

W. Todd Miller, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, "We're disappointed. We're going to consider an appeal."

He added that "there has never been discovery to prove they couldn't have published two papers."

Mahaffey said: "My initial reaction was that I would think there would be an appeal. E They did something illegal and they ought to be held responsible for it."

Strikers confront directors

Two locked-out newspaper workers and an organizing representative of the Teamsters were arrested in Chicago on trespassing charges last week for walking into a law office and requesting a meeting with Tom Reynolds, a powerful Chicago attorney and member of the Gannett board of directors

Reynolds is the semi-retired chairman of the high-profile Winston & Strawn law firm and a director of Gannett and other companies with records of anti-union activities. The law firm also includes former Gov. Jim Thompson of Illinois.

The firm's office in a Wacker Drive office building was the site of a large and noisy demonstration by union members at noon on Wednesday. A group sought a meeting following the rally, but were rebuffed by the law firm. The following day a small group again sought to arrange a meeting and to deliver information about the strike, but the firm's only response was to press trespassing charges.

Strikers and supporters rallied and held actions and receptions for three days last week in Chicago and Milwaukee. Other actions included a visit to a Gannett-owned radio station and a rally outside the Milwaukee Journal, where mailers are struggling to obtain a new contract.

State permanent replacement ban

Two hearings are scheduled by a state House labor committee on bills to regulate anti-union behavior and strike violence by companies involved in labor disputes.

The House Labor and Occupational Safety Committee will hold hearings Tuesday and on April 15, at 9 a.m. in Room 426 of the State Capitol in Lansing.

Two bills are under consideration. One includes a ban on the use of permanent replacement workers and a resolution calling on Congress to pass similar federal legislation. The second would regulate the use of private security armies such as Vance security, limiting their use to company property and imposing other regulations

New coalition

Local political, religious and cultural leaders are launching a new coalition - yet to be named - to battle the Detroit newspapers and support locked-out newspaper workers.

A meeting to form the new coalition is being held 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sacred Heart Church Activities Building, 1000 Eliot in Detroit, just southeast of the intersection of I-75 and Mack in Detroit.

Spearheading the new coalition are City Council President Mahaffey; Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton; community activists and Readers United advocates Grace Boggs, Marian Kramer, General Baker, Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann; Ron Reosti and Rudy Simons.

"The refusal of the Detroit Newspaper Agency to take back the locked-out workers makes it clearer every day that the newspaper owners are intent on breaking the unions and punishing the workers who dared to challenge these two powerful, out-of-state corporations," the group said in a letter, adding a primary goal will be mobilizing for a massive turnout of pro-labor demonstrations June 20- 21.

<A HREF="http://www.rust.net/~workers/strike.html"> Detroit Journal http://www.rust.net/~workers/strike.html

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