A2 News chief works as scab

Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 24, 2005

Employees at the Youngstown Vindicator, an Ohio newspaper, confirmed yesterday that the Ann Arbor News’s top editor, Ed Petykiewicz, as well as Managing Sports Editor Jim Knight and sports copy editor Dave Holzman, worked for the Vindicator while its permanent employees were on strike.

At least three Ann Arbor News reporters and editors worked at the Youngstown paper, said Debora Shaulis, vice president of the local Newspaper Guild, a union that represents 179 striking newspaper workers in Youngstown.

Yesterday was day 100 of the union’s strike against the Vindicator. After their two-year contract with the paper ended on Nov. 16, about 19 newsroom employees, circulation managers and delivery drivers left their jobs, demanding higher wages and better benefits.

Vindicator management, which did not return calls from The Michigan Daily, claims the paper has operated in the red for seven years and that accepting the union’s proposals would ruin the paper financially.

Petykiewicz and Knight did not return calls, and Ann Arbor News Publisher David Sharp said he would not comment on the issue. Holzman, reached at home, denied having worked for the Vindicator.

According to Shaulis, the Ann Arbor News staffers served two-week terms and each returned to Ann Arbor last week. They made $20 per hour and $30 per hour for overtime, including free lodging, gas mileage and a $75-per-day stipend, in addition to their salaries from their regular papers. Over half of the union workers make less than $9 per hour.

“This is just gravy for them,” Shaulis said about the replacement workers, whom she referred to as scabs.

Striking employees are making about $300 a week in strike benefits.

“It’s hard, but we all realize you have to fight for what’s right and take the hit for the future,” Shaulis said.

The Vindicator has not met with the striking staff since Jan. 18.

“The Guild’s been ready to bargain, but they say they’ve made their best and final offer,” Shaulis said. “If this was their best offer, I don’t know what to do, because it’s terrible. We can’t live with it.”

Shaulis added that Vindicator General Manager Mark Brown is bringing in workers in an attempt to break the strike.

“They are probably giving Mark Brown hope, but it’s going to take a long time to outlast us,” she said.

According to Shaulis, many local leaders who are usually used as sources in Vindicator stories are growing annoyed with the replacement workers — including those from the Ann Arbor News — because their unfamiliarity with the Youngstown community is causing them to make mistakes.

“It’s like starting over every two weeks,” Shaulis said. “These people have no context of the area. It doesn’t help a paper’s credibility to have people come in and make mistakes.”

As part of an effort to support the striking workers, community members are pledging $100 a month to adopt a worker. Seventeen people have pledged.

“It’s cold hard cash at a time people really need it,” Shaulis said. “It definitely helps.”

Rumors of Ann Arbor News employees working as scabs have been spread widely via e-mail in recent days, drawing the ire of some Ann Arbor residents who view the paper as losing touch with its largely liberal readership. Last November, the newspaper printed an editorial endorsing George W. Bush for president.