ProPublica Guild and The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh Stand Together in Denouncing Decision by ProPublica Management to Undermine Striking Pittsburgh Journalists
“Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect this kind of union-busting activity from the Block family which owns the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. But the hypocrisy from ProPublica management in working with a scab-staffed publication is stunning and unacceptable.” - Zack Tanner, interactive news designer on strike and Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President
NEW YORK – Unionized journalists at ProPublica are demanding that the nonprofit’s management halts future collaboration with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on its investigative series about the Phillips respirator recall until the strike is over.
In their letter to ProPublica leadership, including Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica Guild members pointed out that working with a publication staffed by workers who've crossed the picket line is antithetical to the organization’s core values. The Guild offered some options for proceeding with the project without Post-Gazette involvement, including publishing solely on ProPublica’s website or co-publishing with the Pittsburgh Union Progress, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh’s paper produced by striking journalists.
“Continuing this partnership not only runs counter to our organization’s mission; it threatens the reputation we have worked hard to build over more than a decade,” the ProPublica Guild Unit Council said in the letter. “As investigative journalists committed to ProPublica’s mission, we believe that the subject of this project is incredibly important and acknowledge that a lot of good work by our members has gone into this. We would like to find a way for this excellent work to continue and the harm to CPAP users to be exposed without directly aiding the strike-breaking tactics of the Post-Gazette’s owners.”
ProPublica Guild represents 130 reporters, editors, designers and business and communications staff at the investigative journalism nonprofit and is part of The NewsGuild of New York. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh represents Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newsroom workers, who have been on strike for the past year.
The ProPublica Guild won voluntary recognition in August and is in the process of preparing to bargain for its first contract. Prior to recognition, several ProPublica staffers were required to work on the series.
“Having a meaningful voice in our workplace is one of the main reasons we organized our union at ProPublica,” said Agnel Philip, a data reporter for ProPublica and the guild’s unit chair. “As we begin working on our first contract, we’ll look for ways to prevent this from happening in the future.”
“ProPublica put its journalists in the terrible position of requiring them to work on a project that collaborates with scabs and alongside a publication whose owners routinely violate labor law,” said Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York. “Now our members are utilizing their power as a union to speak up about their workplace conditions, hold ProPublica management accountable, and stand in solidarity with their NewsGuild siblings.”
This collaboration has enabled Post-Gazette Executive Editor Stan Wischnowski’s goal of lessening the leverage of striking workers. Stan has misled a federal judge, filed criminal charges against a veteran journalist and is a liability to the PG and the industry’s reputation.
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