(en) DAMN: coverage of Action Motown '97

Jay (jay@tao.ca)
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 07:52:16 +1000

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Action Motown '97: National Labor Focuses on Detroit Newspaper Strike by Daymon Hartley for the Direct Action Media Network

(You may access this report and excellent photos by Daymon Hartley on the web at DAMN's temporary site at "http://www.worldmedia.com/madness/directtest/motown1.htm". Another DAMN reporter covered Action Motown as well so another perspective is forthcoming. The People's Video Network will be providing video coverage of the event. Their report is not yet up, but don't despair!--As the DAMN network develops and as we cover more events, we will be able to have the audio, video and print reports up at the same time. By the way, photos are now available of the Boston anti-gentrification protest that DAMN covered last week. Check them out at "http://www.worldmedia.com/madness/directtest/hnj4.htm".)

Estimates of over 100,000 former striking Detroit newspaper workers and their supporters from throughout the US and Canada marched and rallied Saturday, June 21, to show that the workers' struggle with the newspapers continues.

The march came a day after an administrative law judge ruled that the 19-month strike was caused by unfair labor practices and that the newspapers must take the workers back even if it means displacing replacement scabs.

Six union locals representing about 2,500 workers were forced out on strike July 13, 1995, against the Free Press, The Detroit News, and Detroit Newspapers Inc., which runs the papers' business and production operations under a joint operating agreement.

Union members were forced by their leaders to make an unconditional offer to return to their jobs and technically ended the strike Feb. 14. The newspapers accepted the offer five days later. The unions contend that the newspapers in effect rejected that offer because of the newspapers' vow to retain their 1,200 replacement scabs, thus making few jobs immediately available for returning strikers. Only 200 of the 2,000 have been called back to work. This has in effect created a lockout situation for those not returned.

Among union allegations involved in Judge Thomas Wilks' ruling Friday were that management bargained unfairly by improperly imposing a merit pay plan on News employees before negotiations had reached an impasse, and that the News reneged on an agreement to bargain jointly with all six locals on economic issues.

But newspaper officials said they will not implement Judge Wilks' ruling because they will appeal it to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington. Appeals by either side could take years, officials have said. The News is owned by Gannett Co. Inc. and the Detroit Free Press by Knight-Ridder Inc. Detroit Newspapers Inc. runs the papers' business and production operations under a joint operating agreement.

Before the march, hundreds of union supporters rallied at the police department in Sterling Heights, a suburb where Detroit Newspapers has a printing plant that has been the target of protests, and outside the Grosse Pointe Farms home of Frank Vega, chief executive officer of Detroit Newspapers.

Newspaper officials plan to appeal Friday's unfair labor practices ruling to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington. That and possible later appeals by either side could take years, officials have said The focus now shifts to the newspaper unions' request for the NLRB to seek an injunction to immediately restore jobs for all non-fired union newspaper workers who want them.

If the NLRB seeks and wins such an injunction, the companies would appeal at once to block the order.

National local actions against Knight-Rider and Gannett are being called for the weekend of July 12, 13 which is the 2nd Anniversary of the strike/lockout.

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