Face-Off in Detroit: Newspapers, Unions Settle in for What Looks like a Long Strike

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, July 22, 1995 | Go to article overview

Face-Off in Detroit: Newspapers, Unions Settle in for What Looks like a Long Strike


Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher


Both sides in the Detroit newspaper strike ratcheted up the pressure as signs grew through the week that the already bitter labor dispute could become a long one, too.

Though Detroit has seen numerous strikes over the years - including an epic nine-month walkout that shut down both papers in 1968 - this one fed speculation both on the picket line and in Wall Street that the Detroit News is not long for this world.

"I believe they wanted this strike," said Jack Keaton, a Teamsters mailer walking the picket line in front of the News' downtown offices. "This is Phase II of the JOA [joint operating agreement], with Phase III being the shutting down of one of the papers. This is something we saw coming two years ago.

One journalism academic - and longtime Gannett watcher - agrees the strike portends the end of Detroit as a two-newspaper city.

I think so, if it's a prolonged strike said John K. Hartman, the Central Michigan University journalism educator and author of the 1992 book The USA Today Way.

I think Gannett has pretty much had its fill of the Detroit JOA. They lost money there for the first three years, they went through three [JOA] CEOs until they found one who has at least made a modest profit. I think [the surviving paper] is most likely to be the Free Press, which has the most circulation and probably the most prestige around the state," said Hartman, whose book argues that Gannett bought the News in 1986 only to get access to automotive advertising for its fledgling USA Today.

Executives at Detroit Newspapers, the joint agency that operates Knight-Ridder's morning Free Press and Gannett's evening News,vigorously deny any intention to fold the News, despite the continuing shrinking of its circulation.

Detroit Newspapers has certainly shown it plans to continue publishing despite the strike. Since the strike began on the night of July 13, the JOA has used non-union labor - and a paramilitary-style private security force - to continue printing a newspaper, despite the walkout of 2,500 workers from six unions.

The company has not missed a day of publication - but since the second day of the strike it has printed a combined paper called the Detroit News and Free Press that has been thin on both advertising and local news. And union pressure has made distribution a continuing problem.

Strikers - who represent the vast number of organized newspaper workers from journalists to Teamster mailers and drivers - claim their own victories, including pledges of advertising boycotts from several high advertisers and a subscription cancellation drive that, at least in its first days, overwhelmed the newspaper's circulation telephone line.

On Monday, two Teamsters locals asked the National Labor Relations Board to declare the walkout a strike over unfair labor practices, which would prevent the newspapers from hiring permanent replacements.

Even as unions were filing that petition, Knight-Ridder and Gannett were sending journalists from newspapers across the country to work in Detroit.

Tim Kelleher, senior vice president of labor relations for Detroit Newspapers, said of the petition, "The unions, particularly the Teamsters, have filed a lot of unfair labor practices, and this one does not seem to be any more basis than the other ones."

By mid-week, no bargaining sessions were scheduled and emotions were running high on the picket line - and inside the tightly secured newspaper facilities.

George Bullard, assistant managing editor for local news at the News, wrote in a column for the combined paper about the verbal abuse picketers have directed against non-union employees.

For their part, some picketing newsroom employees said they have been disturbed by the quality of the management-produced paper - and a front-page column by Free Press publisher Neal Shine, an employee favorite, that suggested the Newspaper Guild had no real beef with the papers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Face-Off in Detroit: Newspapers, Unions Settle in for What Looks like a Long Strike
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.