JFK Intervention in Paper Strike? No Thanks!

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January 24, 1963, Vol. VIII, No. 14

Newspaper Strike: No JFK Intervention Wanted

By Stephanie Gervis

A call for renewed negotiations between New York newspaper publishers and striking printers, to be held "in continuous session until agreement is reached" was sounded by an angry New York Newspaper Guild this week. The Guild also called on the five metropolitan area papers that, although not struck, shut down in accordance with a publishers agreement, to resume publishing immediately.

The resolution calling for renewed and intensive negotiations also contained a suggestion that "all sides, mediators, publishers, and printers, consider the advisability of bringing in fresh personnel to aid the continuing negotiations." The measure was sponsored by Peter Kihss, George McNickel, and Farnsworth Fowle of the New York Times, Edward Easton of the World-Telegram and Sun, and Oliver Pilat of the New York Post. It was passed by voice vote after the defeat of an amendment which proposed that if progress were not made in a week, President Kennedy should intervene in the newspaper strike as he had in the dock walk-out by appointing a special committee to study the issues and offer a formula for settlement. The amendment, backed by Milton Bracker and A.L. Raskin and presented by Anthony Lewis, all of the New York Times, was soundly defeated by a vote of 488 to 293.

The anger at the ITU on the part of some was matched by anger on the part of others at fellow Guild members who are said to be crossing picket lines to report to work and collecting both salaries and strike benefits. A trial committee was set up to examine members accused of such conduct unbecoming to a trade-union members. Members of the trial committee are James Holton of the World-Telegram, Robert Stern of the Herald Tribune, Richard Strunsky of the Labor Press, Al Udcoff of the Morning Telegraph, Arthur Thompson of the Mirror, Leeds Moberly of the Daily News, Gilbert Cant of Time, Pilat, and Kihss.

The measures were passed at a stormy session in which some of the work-starved reporters, according to one Guild member, attempted to do away with the agenda, urged that the Guild members break the strike by simply going back to work (although they reportedly had no idea who would print what they wrote), talked of a resolution attacking the interunion committee coordinating the ten striking unions, heaped abuse on Bertram Powers, head of striking ITU Local Six, and nearly started a fist fight over possession of the microphone. Some of the participants in the near-melee were reportedly drunk.

More trade-union-conscious members, however, beat down the attempted attack on their "ally" in the war between management and labor. Some tempers were cooled when it was pointed out that the printers' fringe benefit demands included two days of sick leave a year. They are now allowed one. This was apparently one of the "justified proposals by the Typographical Union" referred to in the resolution on negotiations.

One of the supporters of the resolution, Oliver Pilat of the Post, told The Voice that he would have preferred a weaker one, since he considered all the newspaper unions as allies, but the one that was passed, he said, was better than some of the stronger measures proposed, such as the call for Presidential intervention.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

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