New York newspapers, Guild seek to avert strike

Negotiators for the Newspapers Guild of New York and the New York Times and Daily News appear to be making progress. After a weekend recess, talks aimed at averting a newspaper strike in America's largest city resumed on a hopeful note May 4.

The publishers have made a counterproposal to the union's last contract plan. Six other unions already have reached tentative agreements with the Daily News and the Times.

But close observers warn that a Guild strike still is a serious possibility. Pat Smith, the chief spokesman for the Guild, an affiliate union of the AFL-CIO, said progress toward a settlement could only "be measured in inches."

The Guild's contracts with the papers expired March 30. Main demand of the union is to get rid of unequal pay rates in lower, mainly clerical, job classifications.

"In some cases, new employees were receiving more than $100 per week less than those people sitting next to them, doing the same job," Mr. Smith says. "And the pay structure was set up so these people would never reach full pay equality."

Asked to describe progress thus far, Smith said: "We're getting a little anxious that things are going too slowly and that they [the publishers] are taking too long for too little. . . . We remai n at a strike posture."

However, the union has not set a specific deadline for a strike -- an encouraging sign.

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