Pittsburgh NewsGuild-CWA Local Wins Arbitration on Health Care Premiums

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh-TNG-CWA Local 38061 has won a grievance protesting the Post-Gazette's failure to pay for healthcare premium increases for the past two years, the local announced Dec. 30.

An arbitrator ruled that the company's failure to maintain the benefits violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement and instructed management to pay the amount necessary to maintain the benefit levels outlined in the contract and to compensate employees for any out-of-pocket expenses they incurred as a result of the company's refusal to pay the premiums.

Management's failure to maintain employees' health insurance benefits was one of the issues that gave rise to recent protests by the local, including a month-long byline strike, a staff vote of "no confidence" in the executive editor, and staff leafleting about disputes with management outside public events.

The arbitrator's ruling in the health care case "shows in no uncertain terms that our position was right all along," said Pittsburgh Local President Michael A. Fuoco. "If the company wasn't paying millions for bad legal advice from a union-busting attorney – as evidenced by this ruling and a recent federal court ruling regarding the Teamsters – we would have had fair and equitable contracts long ago."

He urged the Block family, which owns the paper, to negotiate in good faith. "The future of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is at stake and we want to save it," he said.