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Inquirer reporter blasts promise to publish despite threatened strike

Editor’s note: The Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com employees, represented by the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia, are locked in contract negotiations with company management over issues like health care costs and employee seniority provisions. While labor talks have been extended, the Guild plans a strike authorization vote next week; yesterday, PMN spokesperson Amy Buckman wrote that in the event of a strike, the company was still planning to publish its products. Inquirer reporter Barbara Boyer penned this open letter to Buckman, and gave Billy Penn permission to publish it.

Dear Amy,

Thank you for this IMPORTANT update, specifically:

“While the Guild has indicated that they may take a strike authorization vote as early as next week, rest assured that even if they do strike, we will continue to print and deliver important news, interesting features and valuable online content to serve the readers, subscribers and advertisers of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.”

Just to be clear, what this really says is that the company is confident that scabs – and enough workers – will cross a picket line to continue to publish. Additionally, that the company believes the experienced staff is expendable, and can be replaced so easily that there will be no disruption of services to our readers.

This attitude is why the Guild has been unsuccessful in negotiating a reasonable contract. We are not widgets. We have enough self-respect to know we deserve adequate pay, medical benefits, and job security.

As a child, I watched my father picket on Christmas Day, fighting for a quality of life he wanted to provide for our family. I respect both of my parents who fought hard to maintain standards, which included their pensions, throughout their careers. They taught me that an ethical employer provides for employees.

For those of you more recently hired, be sure that no one at this paper wants to sacrifice your careers to preserve our own. We have a proud history of fighting layoffs, and we are committed to preserving all jobs. It is unethical to hire one day, and the next day insist there is no money to pay salaries and benefits.

Do not allow these scare tactics to weaken resolve to fight for what is right.

In closing, I would like to thank you again, Amy, for this IMPORTANT update.

In solidarity,

Barbara Boyer, reporter
Hired in 1997

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