Fourteen former Washington Post pressmen were given sentences in D.C. Superior Court yesterday ranging from $250 fines to one year's imprisonment stemming from incidents during a pressmen's strike against the newspaper that began in 1975.
Judge Sylvia Bacon imposed the sentences, saying that "the existence of a labor dispute or a strike does not justify violence." She described the pressmen's actions during the strike as "planned," "purposeful" and "unjustified," and she added, "These events did not erupt spontaneously."
The sentences were angrily denounced by members of the pressmen's families and supporters, who disrupted the courtroom with shouts, sobbing, chants and singing. David Rein, a lawyer for the pressmen, later told newsmen that the sentences were "extremely harsh."
The prosecutors declined to comment on the sentences. They had asked for stiff penalties for some of the pressmen. A spokesman for The Washington Post also declined to comment on the sentences.
The 14 pressmen had pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanors ranging from simple assault to disorderly conduct in return for agreement by federal prosecutors to drop more serious felony charges against them.15th former Post pressmen who also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor was sentenced last month to a $250 fine and a suspended jail term.
The pressmen had characterized the outcome of their plea-bargaining in April as a victory.
The stiffest sentence was imposed yesterday on Jack D. McIntosh, who was given two concurrent one-year jail terms. McIntosh had pleaded guilty to destruction of property in the Post pressroom at the start of the strike Oct. 1, 1975. He was also convicted after a jury trial of assaulting former Washington Post reporter Jules Witcover, now a syndicated columnist, during the pressmen's strike. Judge Bacon denied yesterday a request by McIntosh for a new trial on the assault charge.
According to government officials, McIntosh must serve at least four months of his jail term before he is eligible for parole. Rein told newsmen he is considering steps to gain a reduction of McIntosh's sentence.
Five other former Post pressmen were sentenced to detention under the city's work release program for terms ranging from 60 to 120 days. According to correctional officials, they will be assigned to halfway houses and permitted to leave the institutions during the day to go to their jobs.
They will not be eligible for early parole, the officials said, though they are permitted to earn a few days' reduction in their terms for good behavior.
Eight other pressmen received fines ranging from $250 to $750. Most of the penalties imposed yesterday were combined with suspended jail terms and requirements for one year's probation.
Both prosecution and defense lawyers said the sentences could not be appealed. "There is no basis for appeal since they pleaded guilty," Rein told newsmen.
The pressmen's strike against The Post began with violence during the early hours of Oct. 1, 1975. James Hover, the night foreman of the pressmen was beaten moments after the strike began and all 72 of The Post's press units were put out of action by vandalism. The Post did not publish a newspaper on Oct. 2, 1975.
The pressmen's union, Local 6 of the International Printing and Graphic Communications Union, put up a picket line, which most unions at the newspaper honored. A majority of the Newspaper Guild's members at The Post - editors, reporters, photographers and advertising and commerical employees - continued to cross the picket lines.
In December, 1975, The Post declared that an "impasse" had been reached in negotiations with the pressmen's union. After one week's notice, The Post began hiring replacements for the former pressmen.On March 23 this year, the Post's press operators and stereotypers voted to decertify Local 6 as its official bargaining agent.
The strike, The Post's decision to replace the striking pressmen and the investigation and prosecution of former Post pressmen on criminal charges resulted in a continuing labor controversy, punctuated by protest rallies and marches by the pressmen and their supporters. A 20-minute rally was held yesterday outside the Superior Court buildings to protest the sentences and denounce The Post.
In court yesterday, Rein and other defense lawyers argued for lenient sentences, saying that many of the men had no criminal records, that they had pleaded guilty only to minor misdemeanors, and that the prosecution had agreed to the misdemeanor charges because it could not prove more serious charges. The defense lawyers also argued that the labor dispute had caused emotional pressures on the pressmen. That The Post had helped to provoke their actions and that the pressmen had not intended to cause more than temporary damage to the pressroom.
Those who were sentenced to work released etention yesterday included Euguene E. O'Sullivan, Cecil E. Rust and John H. Raffo, all of whom were given 120-day terms. Gil W. Fowler and Michael Tenorio both received 60-day terms. All five men were also given additional suspended jail sentences and one year's probation.
The prosecutors, in a memorandum filed Tuesday, had described O'Sullivan and Rust as "the leaders and catalysts for the violence damage and destruction." They said McIntosh and Tenorio "played very significant roles in disabling the presses."
Six pressmen received $250 fines yesterday, mainly on disorderly conduct charges. They included Lawrence H. Boyd, Dennis Hughes, Joseph E., Mozingo, John B. Zarbough, Joseph J. Schumacher and Lucins J. Smith. Walter J. Stahli was fined $500, and Fred F. Tweedlie, $750. All eight men also received suspended jail terms and one year's probation.
Judge Bacon granted a request by Rein that the pressmen who were given jail or work release terms be allowed a week before surrending themselves to begin serving their sentences.