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Newspaper ordered to rehire striking workers

January 15, 1997

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A federal judge has ordered a newspaper to rehire 26 workers who have been on strike nearly 18 months.

U.S. District Judge Donald Ziegler on Monday gave the Ellwood City Ledger five days to rehire the workers and, if necessary, fire replacement workers to create job openings.

The Ledger is a 6,700-circulation daily serving Lawrence County, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

The 26 employees voted in 1993 to join the Teamsters union. In July 1995, after 25 bargaining sessions with the paper, they walked out and later created an alternative paper, The Ellwood City Press.

Phillip L. Clark Jr., an attorney for the Ledger’s parent company, Citizens Publishing and Printing Co., said he would seek a stay of the judge’s order.

In August, the National Labor Relations Board cited the parent company, saying the workers were fired for joining a union. In December, the NLRB sought Ziegler’s order, saying the union’s survival was in jeopardy.

If the NLRB complaint is upheld, Citizens could be ordered to reimburse about $340,000 in wages and benefits, NLRB attorney Donald Burns said.

The Kegel family has owned the Ledger since 1923. The publisher is W. Ryan Kegel, and his brother, Scott R. Kegel, is general manager.

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