SEATTLE — Striking workers at Seattle’s two daily newspapers said Monday they are resuming a boycott campaign now that contract talks have collapsed.
They’re doing so with the support of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which last week urged members to cancel their subscriptions to the papers.
SPEEA, which represents engineering and technical employees at Boeing, also donated $5,000 to the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild’s strike fund. The largest union at Boeing, the International Association of Machinists, is organizing a toy drive for the families of striking Guild members.
Talks by representatives of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, The Seattle Times and the Post-Intelligencer ended Sunday night after five hours with a federal mediator.
Guild representatives told a news conference Monday they were taking steps to put more pressure on management. They said the papers failed to engage in good-faith bargaining during weekend meetings.
Spokesman Ron Judd, a striking Times columnist, said the nearly four-week-old strike could go on for weeks.
Guild leaders said they would once again ask subscribers to cancel their subscriptions. They also plan to beef up radio advertising and launch a direct mail campaign with help from the Washington State Labor Council. The guild also would ask customers of major advertisers to pressure them to pull newspaper advertising.
"We have no choice," said Guild spokesman Art Thiel, a striking P-I sports columnist. "For those of us who have worked at these newspapers for a long time, this is a difficult thing."
Boeing unions are backing the striking newspaper workers.
Along with the cash donation, SPEEA is urging its members to join Guild members on picket lines, to make cash donations on their own and to help distribute the Union Record, the paper produced by the striking reporters and editors.
"A lot of people helped us during our strike, now it’s our turn to repay the favor," SPEEA President Craig Buckham said, according to a statement in the engineers’ weekly newsletter.
The Guild, which represents about 1,000 editorial, circulation and advertising employees at the papers, has been on strike since Nov. 21. The newspapers’ offers — the contracts are similar but not identical — included an hourly raise of $3.30 over six years.
It also includes an offer of three new paid days off a year, and lower monthly medical premiums, at least for P-I employees, according to a letter to Guild-represented employees posted on the newspaper’s Web site.
"This is a good offer," the letter from P-I Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby said.
The union wanted a three-year contract with $3.25 in raises, plus matching 401(k) contributions and other improvements. Minimum pay for a reporter with six years’ experience currently is $844.88 per week, or $21.12 per hour. A first-year customer-service representative earns $421 a week, Guild officials said.
Oglesby said the Guild’s approach only hurts the situation.
"I’m looking for a resolution to this thing," he said. "The way to a solution is to look at the offer on the table."
Times spokeswoman Kerry Coughlin said the current offer was similar "with minor adjustments" to a proposal made before the strike began, then withdrawn.
"We think it’s really unfortunate the Guild is making this kind of effort and trying to damage the two newspapers, which really hurts everyone," Coughlin said.
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