1 down, 5 to go

Despite the contract agreement reached between the International Typographical Union (ITU) Local 18 and Detroit Newspapers (DN) last Sunday, nearly 1,000 newspaper workers are still locked out of their jobs, says Shawn Ellis, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Council of Unions.

"This is far from being over," said Ellis. "The newspapers are trying, through use of the papers and other media, to inform the community that this is over," he said. "This agreement covers about 98 employees and we still have close to 1,000 illegally locked out of their positions."

Of the six unions that went on strike July 13, 1995, ITU is the first to reach a contract agreement with the DN. According to the DN, ITU represents about 130 of the 2,400 workers who stuck more than three years ago and made an unconditional offer to return to work in February of 1997.

Asked if this is a sign that the DN will reach an agreement with the other five unions, Tim Kelleher, vice president of labor relations for the DN, said, "I hope so. It is the first settlement and is very beneficial to the employees and sets the stage for other settlements."

The 10-year agreement includes about a 2 percent pay increase annually and, according to the DN, guarantees about 90 members a $70,000 voluntary buyout, which will be paid over three, five or 10 years. Health benefits for those who take the buyout will continue for five years or to age 70, whichever comes first, according to the DN.

Kelleher also said that the company has provided the other unions with contract proposals. He said there are fewer than 580 workers who have not been called back to work.

The DN filed an appeal regarding 10 unfair labor practice charges of which the company was found guilty by NLRB administrative law judge Thomas Wilkes. A ruling on the appeal is expected sometime this year.