Union dues: in the Detroit strike, management paid a high price, but unions were left to reinvent themselves. ('90)

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Date: November-December 2001
From: Columbia Journalism Review(Vol. 40, Issue 4)
Publisher: Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 832 words

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Just months after the Gannett-owned Detroit News and the Knight Ridder-owned Detroit Free Press merged under a joint operating agreement, the road that would ultimately lead to a bitter and longed strike was already being paved. "The merged papers have been successful in one regard -- they have managed to anger just about everyone in town," wrote James Risen in the Los Angeles Times on March 22, 1990. Reporters and editors complained that the papers were losing their identity. Circulation at both papers was down. Advertising was down. Morale was down. At the Free Press, after enduring salary freezes during the lengthy court battle that had been required in order to get the merger approved, newsroom staffers were outraged that the company raised wages by only $30 per week after the JOA came through.

For five years the problems continued, and, ultimately and unsurprisingly, contract negotiations broke down. On July 13, 1995, after enduring cost-cutting measures, job eliminations, and -- the last straw for many --a final proposal to impose a merit pay system in the newsroom, 2,500 of Detroit's newspaper employees walked out. Six unions joined the strike, including the typographers, Teamsters, and The Newspaper Guild. It was another chapter in the historic newspaper union battles that...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A80676489