Negotiations Off: UPI Management, Wire Service Guild Fail to Work out a Deal

By Gersh, Debra | Editor & Publisher, November 23, 1991 | Go to article overview

Negotiations Off: UPI Management, Wire Service Guild Fail to Work out a Deal


Gersh, Debra, Editor & Publisher


Although a hearing on the United Press International motion to nullify its contract with the Wire Service Guild was postponed to allow further talks to reach what looked like a deal between the two groups, negotiations broke off without an agreement.

UPI will ask the court to reschedule a hearing on the motion.

Originally scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 in front of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Francis G. Conrad in Manhattan, the UPI motion was pushed back to 7 p.m. by other matters before the court, at which time attorneys postponed further action. They did, however, reportedly reserve the right to reappear before Judge Conrad if a deal with the union could not be reached.

As E&P went to press, talks between UPI officials and Guild representatives in Philadelphia broke off without an agreement. Neither side would discuss any provisions on the table.

Prior to the latest court action, the Wire Service Guild executive committee called a strike authorization vote among Guild members. The vote does not mean there will be a strike, but would give the executive committee the power to call one should it believe it necessary.

This vote "is not a particularly dramatic turn," explain Guild executive committee member Doug Levy, UPI science writer in Washington. "We do hope it lets the company know we are serious."

Levy and the WSG have charged UPI with stalling negotiations by presenting only unreasonable and unacceptable proposals.

UPI executive vice president/editor Al Rossiter Jr. said he did not believe that to be the case at all and that the company has done everything possible to reach an agreement with the union.

One issue of contention between the union and UPI became moot when Philadelphia staffer Chuck Moody, a member of the WSG executive committee, was reinstated. Moody's dismissal had been challenged by the Guild, but when a junior staffer who had been kept in the bureau quit, Moody was brought back.

Employees continue to leave the company, with some high-profile staffers recently quitting. Included among them are former White House correspondent Norman D. Sandler, who has joined the Washington, D.C., public affairs firm Powell Tate; former Pentagon correspondent Eliot Brenner, who is ending a family connection with UPI that lasted more than 50 years to become a speech writer for Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney; and former Justice Department correspondent Dan Carmichael, who once served as national secretary-treasurer of the Wire Service Guild, who has been hired as a spokesman for the Communications Workers of America in Washington.

At a staff meeting Nov. 15, Pieter VanBennekom, UPI president and CEO, told those assembled that, while the bankruptcy proceedings continued, he would no longer actively solicit buyers for the company. …

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