Detroit news strike: 11 weeks, holding firm

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Thu Sep 28 12:43:00 MDT 1995


**Detroit news strike: 11 weeks, holding firm**

(Reprinted from the September 30, 1995 issue of the People's
Weekly World. Maybe reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
For subscription information see below)

By Fred Gaboury

Shavonne Terpina said the past week of the Detroit newspaper
strike was quite a week: "Steve Duchane, the city manager of
Sterling Heights resigned," she told the World.

"At its last meeting the Sterling Heights City Council voted
not to accept any more money from the newspaper publishers
to pay police who have been involved in brutal attacks on
strikers and their supporters. And, for the fourth
consecutive Saturday night, we succeeded in disrupting
delivery of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press that
were produced behind union picket lines."

Mike Hein, a member of Teamster Local 372, was jubilant when
asked if the fact that Duchane had ordered Sterling Heights
police to brutally attack pickets at the printing plant
where scab-produced newspapers are printed had anything to
do with his resignation. "I would say so," he said. "Yes,
indeed, I would say so."

Some 2,500 newspaper workers belonging to six different
local unions have been on strike against Detroit's two
metropolitan papers since July 13. The unions were forced to
strike when the Detroit Newspaper Agency (DNA), which
represents the papers in negotiations, refused to extend the
contract while negotiations continued. Sterling Heights
police have been particularly brutal in attacking pickets in
order to allow trucks to leave the plant.

Terpina is the AFL-CIO representative who coordinates the
activities of the Labor/Community/Religious Coalition in
Support of the Striking Newspaper Unions. "Our job is to
find ways of supporting the strike," she said, adding that
the coalition had been instrumental in the campaign that has
so far convinced more than a quarter of a million Detroiters
to cancel their subscriptions to the two papers.

The coalition has also worked to convince merchants to
cancel their advertising. "We've convinced about 200 to do
so," Terpina said, "and we are leafleting stores that
continue to advertise, urging customers to take their
business somewhere else." The coalition also organized a
"visit" of several hundred people to the home of Frank Vega,
the CEO of the DNA, on Sunday, Sept. 17.

"Yes, they can dispatch hundreds of cops to escort scabs
through our picket lines but they will never break our
spirit nor will they break the strike," Wendell Addington, a
member of Steelworkers Local 1299 told the World on Tuesday.

Addington was one of the several hundred trade unionists who
blocked delivery of the scab-produced joint edition of
Detroit's metropolitan newspapers in the wee small hours of
Sunday morning. Eventually Detroit police cleared a path but
Addington said the pickets made their point.

"We not only kept a big semi that was loaded with papers
from entering the station, we kept several smaller delivery
vans from leaving," Addington said, explaining that a
distribution warehouse was where larger truckloads of papers
were broken down into smaller loads for delivery to retail
outlets and street boxes.

Addington said his local had targeted a distribution
warehouse in Lincoln Park. "Our members drop by in the
afternoon either on their way to work or on the way home.
After our last union meeting about 40 of us marched to the
warehouse." Addington said the local had organized a one-day
gate collection that raised over $3,500 for the strikers.

************RELATED STORY**************

Detroit city council president: 'I'll be on the picket
line!'

"Of course, I'll be there," Maryann Mahaffey, president of
the Detroit City Council, said enthusiastically when asked
if she was going to walk the picket line with striking
Detroit newspaper workers.

"I fully support the unions and their demands. None of us
should buy or even read either the News or Free Press."

Mahaffey said the strike was an "obvious effort to break the
unions involved. Everything that's been said and done by the
publishers leads one to that conclusion."

Mahaffey said she supports the initiative of the mayors of
Detroit and Sterling Heights in calling for "round-the-
clock" bargaining to end the strike. She was contemptuous of
the position of the publishers.

"On the one hand, they tell us that despite the strike, they
have been able to keep over 90 percent of their subscribers.
Then they refuse the mayors' request to bargain because
circulation is down 30 percent and they want the unions to
relieve the pressure. But," she asked, her voice turning
angry, "isn't that what employers always do?"

-- Fred Gaboury
##30##


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