Newspaper union plans protest at publisher’s wedding reception
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strikers in Pennsylvania are planning a protest outside the wedding reception of the newspaper’s owner amid an ongoing strike against allegedly unfair labor practices under his leadership.
John Block, the owner of print and broadcast media company Block Communications Inc., is planning to celebrate his wedding on Saturday at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh but could face a sea of strikers after union members began pushing for a “crowd” to gather outside his nuptials after-party.
The Post-Gazette workers said in a release advertising the protest that on Monday, negotiators with Block Communications rebuffed their demands and insisted on contract language that would “compromise our existence as union workers and all of us as members of a community that deserves quality news.”
“So on Nov. 19, when John Block is planning to hold an extravagant wedding reception at the Duquesne Club here in Pittsburgh, we plan to be outside,” union representatives wrote. “The Blocks seemingly insist on disrespecting us, our fellow workers, and the service we strive to provide the public.
“So we will see them on their very special Saturday,” the release added. “We’d like to bring a crowd. And we’d love for you to be in it.”
Workers at the newspaper have been on strike since early October, when production and advertising staff, some represented by the the Communications Workers of America (CWA), protested the cancelation of their health insurance coverage.
Journalists represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh joined the strike on Oct. 18 to protest alleged unfair labor practices at the paper and many of the paper’s workers not receiving raises for 16 years.
The effort has now evolved into a strike involving 150 workers across all departments of the Post-Gazette. It also includes two more unions through local Teamsters and Pressmen’s Union chapters, according to press releases and information sent to The Hill. The movement is Pittsburgh’s first major newspaper strike in 30 years.
Reporters and editors at the paper who are on strike have been publishing alternative content through a strike publication, The Pittsburgh Union Progress, including critical midterm election coverage.
Block Communications acquired the Post-Gazette in 1926. The media company also owns The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, as well as four cable networks and six broadcast stations. Block, the owner, serves as publisher and editor of the paper and inherited ownership through his family.
Conditions have deteriorated at the Post-Gazette and The Blade since 2019, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, after mass resignations, labor lawsuits and disputes over political bias.