Leaders of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 1,100 unionized employees urged the workers yesterday to approve contract adjustments that would help the company avoid a projected loss of $6.5 million in 2004.
The nine unions that voted on the package yesterday each overwhelmingly approved the economic package, said Joseph Molinero, president of Teamsters Local 211 and co-chairman of the unions' Unity Council, made up of all 10 of the newspaper's unions.
The Newspaper Guild, representing editorial employees, will vote on the package today.
Union leaders said an audit of the Post-Gazette's financial records convinced them that the newspaper, owned by Block Communications Inc. since 1993, was justified in asking for help from employees in the middle of a four-year contract which runs through 2006. The changes endorsed by the Unity Council include a $10 increase in prescription drug co-pays, the loss of a $10 weekly pay raise scheduled July 1, and sacrifice of one week's vacation in 2005, which Molinero said would save the Post-Gazette money on overtime costs.
"It's just a common sense answer to the problems the Post-Gazette has put forth," Molinero said, estimating the combined employee sacrifices would save the company about $3.5 million. "[Block Communications has] treated us well since they bought the newspaper, so we have an obligation to help them if they request it."
Post-Gazette President David Beihoff said the newspaper's finances have been harmed in particular by "a three-year advertising recession and incredible increases in health care costs," and any help from the unions would be appreciated.