April 08, 2020

Press Herald workers support Seattle employees

PORTLAND – More than 100 employees picketed outside the Portland Press Herald on Friday in support of strikers at their sister newspaper, The Seattle Times.

Members of Local 128 of the Portland Newspaper Guild carried signs expressing solidarity with fellow union members in Seattle and demanding a better contract for themselves.

The union, which had conducted informational picketing on six previous occasions, said the noontime picket and rally were held Friday for two reasons.

“We wanted to do something to show support for our union brothers and sisters in Seattle,” said Ray Routhier, a Press Herald reporter and member of the Guild’s Solidarity Committee. “Also, it’s the second anniversary of the expiration of our contract and the third year since we’ve had a raise.”

Routhier said the Portland local has been in contact with its counterpart in Seattle and may send people there for a week or so to assist the strikers.

“There’s no specific plan,” he said, suggesting it might involve office work or other tasks the strikers need done.

The newspapers are owned by The Seattle Times Co., whose Blethen Maine Newspapers division also owns the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the weekly Coastal Journal in Bath.

Routhier said it was difficult to speculate what impact the Seattle strike might have on contract negotiations in Portland.

Blethen Maine spokesman Ted O’Meara said management was watching the Seattle strike, but saw few similarities.

“We’re really talking about different companies, different bargaining units and different histories,” he said.

“The two situations aren’t really linked in any way except that we’re part of the same family of companies.”

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