The Newspaper Guild struck The New York Daily News yesterday, but the nation's largest circulation daily planned to publish its Wednesday edition without the Guild and the craft unions that are honoring the editorial and commercial workers' picket line.
Eight of the nine craft unions are honoring the picket line. The International Typographical Union, the only one with a valid contract the News, has told its members to work. Some individual printers, however, are refusing to cross the picket line.
The top minimum weekly salary at the News is $457.28. Under terms of the proposed contract that would rise to $525.28 over three years.
In the early hours of the strike it was unclear how The New York Times and New York Post, which have pledged to support the News, would react.
Barry McCarthy, a spokesman for the Times, said Times executives were studying what form their support for the News will take.
Martin Fischbein, assistant to Post publisher Rupert Murdoch, said the Post will publish, but has pledged not to increase its press run and would make a further announcement today.
The key to the success of News attempts to continue publishing is held by the Newspaper Deliveries union, which was waiting until the last moment to announce whether its members will drive trucks across the picket line to distribute the paper.
Minutes after Guild leaders broke off negotiations and called their 1,340 members at the News out on strike, Guild Executive Vice President Harry Fisdell took deliverers union President Douglas La Chance by the hand and said, "Dough, we're going out on strike and we need your support."
"I've got to feed my members," La Chance replied.
The strike is the 11th since 1950 in the bitter labor history of New York's newspapers.
Guild officials ignored the advice of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service National Director John Zancanaro and called the strike, Fisdell said, "Because we had no alternative."
Patrick Villela, the chairman of the guild unit at the News, said outstanding issues in the negotiations that had been going on intensively since the Guild set its first strike deadline for a week ago "are too numerous to mention."
He accused the News of trying to make all future employes "second-class citizens" by refusing to provide them the same wages and benefits present employes enjoy.
The News, which has a daily circulation of 1.8 million and Sunday circulation of 2.7 million, issued a statement declaring itself "keenly disappointed at an arbitrary and unjustified" strike.
Wages are not a major issue. The News has offered weekly pay increases of $23 in each of the first two years of a three-year contract and $22 in the third year, the same terms it tentatively agreed to with the deliverers union earlier this year. Negotiations broke down over working conditions and fringe benefits, with Guild spokesmen claiming that the company sought to take away employe benefits in about 15 areas.
Guild members have been working without contracts at all three New York dailies since March 30, but although the publishers have an agreement to bargain together, the situation is different at each of the papers.
The Post has been pressuring the Guild by unilaterally posting new work rules, and Guild members there have publicly accused Murdoch of seeking to break their union. Fischbein said no new measures were being taken against the Guild by the Post yesterday, but left open the possiblility of some action by the publisher today.
The Times has been an observer while negotiations with the News took center stage, and there have not been problems specific to Guild-Times relations.
As the picket line went up outside the News building on 42nd Street, police officials made clear that they would keep the strikers away from any trucks that came to distribute the News.
Assistant Police Chief Daniel Courtenay ordered his men to keep the truck bays clear. "They have a right to strike, but they don't have a right to interfere with people trying to go in the building," he said.
"If it gets hairy, we'll have 100 to 150 men here," he added.
Members of the deliverers union stood watching the picket line, waiting for instructions from La Chance to work or not to work. They vowed, however, that if they honor the picket line there will be violence if nonunion drivers are brought in to deliver the News.