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Post-Gazette Writers Demand Owner’s Removal from C-SPAN Board

Julian Routh
Post-Gazette multimedia journalist Steve Mellon (right) addresses the crowd while Copy Editor Erin Hebert (left) and CWA Sec-Treas. Sara Steffens look on. In the background are NewsGuild-CWA Pres. Jon Schleuss (left) and AFA-CWA IVP Keturah Johnson.

Members and supporters of NewsGuild-CWA gathered outside of C-SPAN’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 8 to protest Pittsburgh Post-Gazette owner Allan Block’s continued presence on the network’s board of directors. The rally took place amid an ongoing multi-union strike against Block and the management of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

NewsGuild-CWA and Teamsters members have been hitting the bricks since October, demanding a reversal of cuts to wages, healthcare and benefits that were made unilaterally by the Post-Gazette’s leadership. The newspapers’ journalists have not seen an across-the-board raise in over 15 years, including cost of living adjustments. Rather than negotiating in good faith, the owners and their stooges have stonewalled the unions at every juncture.

To make matters worse, the strikers have been subject to physical violence. In November, a union organizer was attacked by Block himself, brandishing a bag of fast food and hurling obscenities simply because he was asked about the strike at a highway rest area. Only days after the rally at C-SPAN, a scab worker assaulted two Teamsters on a picket line at the paper’s Pittsburgh distribution center. One of the victims needed surgery to fix his broken jaw.

In spite of ownership’s abysmal conduct, those gathered at C-SPAN headquarters were in high spirits. In addition to the striking newspaper staff, other friendly faces could be found in the crowd including NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International Vice President Keturah Johnson. U.S. Representative Summer Lee (D-PA), whose district includes the city of Pittsburgh, provided inspiring remarks to the rally goers. 

AFA-CWA Member Cindy Sjoquist (left) with Exec Sec-Treas-Elect Mark Clements. The rally was held on International Women’s Day.

The Maritime Trades Department of course showed out in support of its affiliates, with Executive Secretary-Treasurer-Elect Mark Clements and Communications Director Mike Hickey in attendance. The MTD previously raised awareness of the strike at its Executive Board meeting in February

Calling for C-SPAN to “drop the Block,” the rally goers noted that Block’s actions during the strike fits a larger pattern of reprehensible behavior. They called attention to his family’s support for the January 6th, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol and other 2020 election denial efforts.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers encourage readers of the Post-Gazette to cancel their subscriptions in solidarity. Instead, readers are urged to subscribe to the Pittsburgh Union Progress, a publication created and staffed by the strikers to provide the Southwest Pennsylvania region with quality news coverage until the labor dispute is resolved. Subscriptions to the Union Progress are free, although donations to the strike fund are profoundly appreciated. 

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