Newspaper strike brings police to Bothell plant

Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Seattle Times asked for more police outside a Bothell printing plant where striking members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild picketed Sunday on the sixth day of their walkout from Seattle’s two major daily newspapers.

Bothell police said they stepped up their presence outside the plant in an effort to keep things calm. The pressmen’s union, which operates the presses at the North Creek plant, voted last week not to join the strike.

"Things have remained peaceful. We’re monitoring things, but we haven’t had to take any overt police action," Officer Elmer Brown, a police spokesman, said. "But we do have an increased presence out there now."

The Times asked police to take more control because strikers were temporarily blocking cars for up to two minutes from leaving the parking lot, said H. Mason Sizemore, president of The Times, in a story posted on The Times Web site Sunday night.

"There have been some pretty testy exchanges, and the frustration is building among people inside and outside," he told The Times.

Guild spokesman Art Thiel said he did not want to comment.

As the strike by the 1,000-member Guild continued against The Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Times management said they would try to return to normal operations in terms of size and coverage.

The first Sunday edition published since the strike began last Tuesday was noticeably thinner than the usual package several inches thick with advertising and feature sections. However, it did include the first full classified section since the strike began.

"Our goal, one way or another, is to get the newspaper back up as close to normal as possible and as quickly as possible," said Sizemore.

He said Sunday that no decision had been made yet on hiring replacements for staff reporters and photographers who walked out along with advertising, marketing and circulation personnel.

Officials at the Seattle P-I, which is owned by the Hearst Corp., did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The two papers are owned by different companies and have competing newsrooms, but publish together under a joint operating agreement with advertising and circulation handled by The Times. Both have been publishing smaller editions with free distribution since the strike began.

Federal mediator Jeff Clark said Sunday that he plans to meet separately with all sides this week. From there he will decide whether he should try to bring them back to the bargaining table or not, Clark said.

Times Executive Editor Michael Fancher, in a column published Sunday, likened the strike to a death in the family.

"Many staffers who left said this isn’t personal," Fancher wrote. "But how can it not be? It’s personal on all sides and hurtful to everyone."

Fancher’s column also expressed little optimism about the strike’s ending.

"I don’t see any outcome of this situation that is good for journalism," he wrote. "Anyone who thinks it will end quickly is likely to be disappointed."

A few miles away, the Guild’s strike paper, the Seattle Union Record, was getting ready to publish its second print edition today with a new printer. Strikers have not said which printer is involved. The Eastside Journal, which printed the first edition, decided not to continue after officials learned it was a strike paper.

The Guild also was anticipating the arrival of International Guild President Linda Foley today.

The newspapers’ final offers — the contracts are similar but not identical — included an hourly raise of $3.30 over six years. The union wanted a three-year contract with $3.25 in raises, plus matching 401(k) contributions and other improvements.

Under current agreements, minimum pay for a reporter with six years’ experience is $844.88 per week, or $21.12 per hour.

Guild official Larry Hatfield said the strike was called primarily on behalf of non-newsroom employees who make up a majority of Guild membership.

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