Top Pgh NewsGuild Backer Crosses Picket Line as Strike Implodes – Arkansas Tyson Worker Strike-  Rutgers Strike Could Grow to 11,000

An analysis done by Payday Report shows that 2/3rd of Post-Gazette union has crossed picket line or quit (WESA)

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Union Leader Crosses Picket Line 

For years, Josh Axelrod has been an active union member in the Pittsburgh NewsGuild and publicly very vocal in his support for the union. After six months on strike, Axelrod crossed the picket line on Tuesday, dealing what may be a mortal blow to the scandal-plagued union. 

Publicly, Axelrod declared his support for the union, saying that he supported efforts to win a union contract still, but found the efforts of Pittsburgh NewsGuild President Zack Tanner to be toxic and abusive in his dealings with people. 

Previously, Payday reported that Tanner, who was implicated in covering up the sexual misconduct of former Pittsburgh NewsGuild President Michael Fuoco (dubbed the “Harvey Weinstein of Pittsburgh” by the New York Times), had alienated many NewsGuild members with his toxic style. 

Approximately 2/3rd of those, who were previously members of the union, have either crossed the picket line or gone to get other work; many of them cited the toxic leadership style of Tanner in their decision to leave their union, including Axelrod. 

Axelrod lamented this toxic dynamic saying on Twitter that he tried “to stop the union/individual members from torpedoing internal support through their words/actions.”

Tanner took to Twitter to repeatedly blast both Axelrod and his wife, who does not work in journalism.

“I watched our dog die less than 48 hours after a health care bargaining session in Dec and am now trying to budget moving & living alone after my marriage fell apart during this strike,” wrote Tanner on Twitter. “These aren’t valid excuses.” 

(Full Disclosure: Tanner is currently facing a sexual misconduct whistleblower suit for physically assaulting me and sending me graphic emails depicting how he wanted me raped

9,000 Rutgers Strike Could Grow to 11,500 Workers 

Yesterday, 9,000 Rutgers workers from 3 different unions went on an open-ended strike to protest poor working conditions at their facility. Now, another 2,500 Rutgers members of URA-AFT who work in facilities, dining services, and residential life are voting today on whether to join the strike. 

“We are often the invisible workforce. We are also precarious,” URA-AFT Prez Christine O’Connell told NJ Advance Media. “If management doesn’t move, we may have to move ourselves to push them.” 

It’s unclear how long the strike may last. Rutgers Administration had threatened to take legal action against the union for striking illegally. However, POLITICO reports that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy intervened and blocked the university from taking legal action. Murphy is encouraging the administration to settle the strike. 

For more on the growing strike wave on university campuses, check out Inside Higher Ed. 

Arkansas Tyson Workers Go on Strike 

In Arkansas, non-union workers employed by Tyson are on strike after Tyson announced that they intended to close two plants in the state. While non-union, the workers have been organizing for years with Venceremos, an immigrant worker justice group based in Arkansas. 

The workers, many of whom continued working during the pandemic, are protesting the lack of a severance package provided by the company. Today, a petition signed by over 300 workers was delivered to the company demanding a complete severance package. 

“Tyson is treating its workers as disposable, denying them the pay they are owed and the basic respect they deserve, not only as employees but as humans,” Magaly Licolli, Executive Director at Venceremos, told KFSM. 

For more, check out KFSM. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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