Franklin Havlicek, 59; Labor Negotiator for Post

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Franklin J. Havlicek, 59, a lawyer and former chief labor negotiator for The Washington Post who resigned in 1997 amid bitter contract negotiations with the mailers union, died Aug. 4 at his home in Chevy Chase after a heart attack.

Mr. Havlicek was a labor executive at NBC before joining The Post in 1988 with the title of vice president for industrial relations and environmental services. He succeeded Lawrence A. Wallace, a veteran of the pressmen's strike of the mid-1970s who retired after a series of tough bargains that he struck with the paper's weakened labor unions.

Mr. Havlicek was regarded as a fierce negotiator, and during his nine years at The Post, he clashed with union representatives in often personal ways. In 1995, members of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild called for his replacement during bargaining, and eventually the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service helped resolve negotiations.

In 1997, he resigned during deliberations with the Washington Mailers Union, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. At the time, Mr. Havlicek was working on a five-year agreement with the union, which represented 400 predominantly white male "mailers" and 200 mostly female and minority "helpers."

The mailers reportedly had been paid 25 percent more than the helpers for what evolved into essentially the same work because of automation -- bundling newspapers for distribution and running machines that insert advertising leaflets.

Mr. Havlicek angered union leaders with a proposal to pay future mailers less, basically to match the helpers' lower scale. As further talks became loud and personal, Mr. Havlicek persuaded the newspaper to place a guard outside his home.

Mr. Havlicek directed much of his anger at Communications Workers of America executive William Boarman, who he thought had made a comment about "fighting in the streets" if the unions did not prevail. Further tensions led Mr. Havlicek to react by invoking Watergate, telling Boarman, "We've beaten the government and the president of the United States."

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Havlicek offered his resignation, which was accepted.

After leaving The Post, Mr. Havlicek became a deputy division chief at the International Monetary Fund Institute, which offers training in economic management. He also was an adjunct professor of international affairs at American University.

Franklin Joseph Havlicek was born in Manhattan, N.Y., and raised in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. He was a 1968 graduate of Columbia University, from which he also received a law degree in 1973 and a master's degree in political science in 1977.

From 1978 to 1982, he worked for New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch (D), helping draft state legislation and executive orders and negotiate the city's labor contracts.

While in New York, he was chairman of the Sunnyside Foundation, a community preservation agency in Queens. He also briefly considered challenging Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R) in 1986.

Among Mr. Havlicek's private interests was recruiting children for the Louis August Jonas Foundation Inc., a New York-based organization that runs leadership camps for young people. He had attended as a child.

His marriage to Suzanne Havlicek ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Louise Sferrazza Havlicek, and their two children, Lee Havlicek and Ray Havlicek, all of Chevy Chase; his mother, Rosalia Zona of Huntington, N.Y.; a sister, Sarah Havlicek of Bethesda; and three brothers, Ray Havlicek of Lake Placid, N.Y., John Havlicek of East Hampton, N.Y., and Phil Havlicek of San Francisco.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company