Union Workers Cross Picket Lines, and the NY Post Publishes
NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Post, the tabloid that’s staggered off the canvas more times than Rocky Balboa, put out its first edition in three days Thursday after union workers crossed a picket line of fellow employees.
″Death-Defying Post Is Back,″ read a small front-page headline in the 96- page Friday edition, which managers put together despite a strike by 287 editorial, advertising and clerical workers.
The decision by the production unions to return to work paves the way for purchase of the bankrupt Post by Rupert Murdoch.
″We remain committed to saving this newspaper and preserving as many jobs as possible,″ said Post Publisher Patrick J. Purcell.
Striking members of The Newspaper Guild shouted ″Shame on you 3/8″ as more than 200 workers, including members of the critical pressmen’s and drivers’ unions, entered the paper through its loading dock.
After the paper came out, Guild members set fire to copies outside the Post offices. Three people, including Barry Lipton, president of the Guild’s New York City chapter, were arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
Members of the Guild, who went on strike Monday, had hoped their line would hold and Murdoch would drop his insistence on being able to fire any Guild member he wants for four months, with no severance pay.
The unions had presented a unified front through five years of financial woes and near extinction for the Post.
But on Wednesday evening, an agreement was announced with leaders of the nine non-Guild unions to cross the picket line and print and distribute Friday’s paper. Those unions had previously agreed on contracts with Murdoch.
″In our hearts, we don’t want to go in. But we have to save the New York Post,″ drivers union President Frank Sparacino told his members as they gathered across the street two hours before heading into the Post building.
″We are going in for our jobs,″ said Allied Printing Trades Council President George McDonald as he walked inside. McDonald helped negotiate the deal to bring the unions back to work.
Guild leaders said they wouldn’t reconsider their walkout.
″There’s nothing there to make us want to go back in the building,″ said Harry Leykis, head of the Post’s Guild unit. ″Right now, we’re staying out here and we’re fighting a fight.″
The Post, which has 700 workers, has been losing readers and money for years, with circulation now at 438,000 and annual losses of more than $10 million.
Murdoch, frustrated over the continuing labor strife, renounced his interest in the tabloid Tuesday. He changed his mind after appeals from Gov. Mario Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and Cardinal John O’Connor.
This was the fourth time this year the Post has missed editions; it returned from similar problems in March, April and July.