One of the four newspapers that have sprung up here since a strike closed New York's usual papers ran into labor trouble of its own yesterday.
The three top editors of the Daily Metro resigned yesterday and the entire staff briefly walked out after them because of links between the Daily Metro and Rupert Murdoch, publisher of The New York Post.
Frederick Iseman, who went from summer temporary assistant on The New York Times op-ed page to publisher of the Daily Metro, disclosed late Tuesday that he had borrowed "several hundred thousand dollars" from Murdoch and had given the Australian press tycoon an option to buy the strike paper.
Although the option agreement had been reported and the loans have been rumored. Iseman had not been open with his staff, the three top editors charged. "We were deceived from the beginning, and our trust and confidence destroyed," they said in a written statement.
When the rest of the editorial staff walked off their jobs, the Metro was faced with missing an edition. However, a hastily reached agreement in which Iseman pledged to close the Metro when the strike ends and Murdoch's representative said the Post publisher would surrender his option to buy the Metro. Apparently restored the confidence of some of the staff.
Iseman estimated that two-thirds of the roughly 60-person staff were back at work by midafternoon. Metro reporters put the number of missing at half.
The reporters and editors are Newspaper Guild members from The Daily News, Times and Post who are refusing to cross the picket lines thrown up around all three papers Aug. 9 by the pressmen's union.
As union members their greatest fear was that Murdoch intends to close down the Post permanently and launch a paper with another name in its place, manned entirely by nonunion workers. The Metro could have been the vehicle for such a move, but Murdoch has now agreed with Iseman that the Metro will cease to publish when the usual papers return.
The question of credibility, as one reporter called it, that drove editor Alvin Davis, manager editor Richard Roberts and city editor Jeffrey Schmalz to resign, was only the most recent and most explosive outburst of reports linking Murdoch to the Daily Metro.
When the paper began publication Aug. 21, it soon became known that Murdoch had agreed to buy 150,000 copies for his subscribers in Queens and that he had helped Iseman with startup money. The New York Times helped a second strike paper, the City News, organized its distribution.
Daily Metro's troubles came as all signs of motion toward ending the strike ceased. Federal mediator Kenneth Moffett announced last Thursday that talks between the publishers and the pressmen had broken down, and there has been no indication that they will resume this week.
The publishers say they hope that pressure on two of the eight unions involved in the strike will bring some progress. The truck drivers who deliver the papers are losing money by respecting the pressmen's picket lines and their leader. Douglas LaChance, is well aware that by using automated equipment the publishers could print papers without the other unions and distribute them if only his union would go back to work.
The mailers' union, headed by George McDonald, is also feeling financial pressure. The International Typographical Union, the mailers' parent, is paying over $400,000 a week in benefits to mailers even though the main ITU units are crossing picket lines because they have valid contracts with publishers. Despite rumors of unhappiness over this situation, a union official said the benefits would be paid "as long as necessary."
The three publishers have been presenting a united front throughout the strike, but pressmen's leader Williem Kennedy clearly hopes that this management solidarity will crack.
Murdoch has the most to gain from a strike, since his Post was losing money and his New York magazine and Village Voice are loaded with advertising and selling well during the strike.