Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Open Shop in Detroit

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Open Shop in Detroit

Article excerpt

Ten months into the strike against Detroit's two daily papers and their joint operating agency, the Detroit Free Press declared an impasse, implemented its final contract offer and asserted that the newsroom represented by the Newspaper Guild for more than half a century is now an open shop.

"On Wednesday [April 24] we declared that the talks were hopelessly deadlocked and that we were at an impasse," Free Press executive editor Robert G. McGruder said. Our last face-to-face meeting was February 13."

Last July 6 - a week before 2,500 workers from six editorial and production walked off their jobs to begin what has become the longest newspaper strike in Detroit's history - the Detroit News unilaterally implemented its final contract offer on its own Guild unit.

The Guild responded by filing an unfair labor charge. Trial before the regional National Labor Relations Board on that and other unfair labor charges against the papers and the JOA began recently in Detroit.

Union officials said they are likely to challenge the Free Press move, as well.

The News tried that - and they're in federal court over it," said Roger Kerson, spokesnian for the Metropolitan Council of Newspaper Unions. You can't just throw something on the table and say, `well, you didn't say yes', so we're at an impasse."

Well over half of the journalists and clerical staff who were represented by the Guild when the strike began have crossed the picket lines to return to work at both papers. Guild units bargain separately with Knight-Ridder Inc.'s Free Press and Gannett Co.'s News. Production unions bargain with the Detroit Newspaper Agency, which operates business, production and distribution functions of the papers.

At the Free Press, McGruder said, 160 of the 290 employees working at the time of the strike crossed the picket lines. About 90 replacement workers have been hired since August, he said. …

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