Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pittsburgh Pact: Scripps Reaches Agreement to Sell Press to Post-Gazette

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pittsburgh Pact: Scripps Reaches Agreement to Sell Press to Post-Gazette

Article excerpt

During The Pittsburgh newspaper strike, union officials have often accused E.W. Scripps of plotting to kill its junior partner, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, so its own Pittsburgh Press could move from afternoon to morning publication.

Now it may very well happen that the Post-Gazette will become the Steel City's only daily newspaper.

Blade Communications, owners of the Post-Gazette, reached agreement Oct. 29 to buy the Pittsburgh Press Co. from E.W. Scripps.

The deal is contingent on reaching a contract agreement with Teamster circulation workers, and ending the longest newspaper strike in Pittsburgh history.

Negotiations began Oct. 30 in an optimistic atmosphere.

Teamster Local 211 president Joseph Molinero hailed the possible sale.

"The Block family has been around Pittsbugh for quite a while," he said. "They know the city's needs, the needs of the advertisers and the needs of the workers. That's a plus for us, [as] against outsiders coming in."

Molinero and Teamsters International president Ron Carey praised the sale even though the union had assembled its own group to make an employee ownership bid.

Their reaction was in sharp contrast to the bitterness that characterized negotiations with E.W. Scripps, which controls the joint operating agency that manages business and production operations of the two newspapers.

Many union members demonized Press general manager Jimmy Manis during negotiations. By contrast, William Block Sr. and other Blade Communications executives were not involved at all in the labor negotiations.

The Scripps sale agreement puts a Nov. 30 deadline on negotiations with the Teamsters.

If labor contracts are not reached, Scripps said, the sales agreement would lapse, Scripps would cease financing the Press Co. and the Pittsburgh Press newspaper would fold.

Teamster drivers and loaders shut down both papers when they walked off their jobs May 17 to protest Press Co. plans to implement a bulk distribution plan that would have eliminated 450 of 600 union jobs. …

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