Striking pressmen have closed both of this city's daily newspaper, despite less than enthusiastic support from other affected unions.
Pressmen began picketing the afternoon Post-Disptach Monday after negotiations on manning were broken off. The Post-Dispatch prints the morning Globe-Democrat under contract.
The two papers have a combined circulation exceeding half a million.
The strike here comes less than three weeks after the end of a pressmen's strike in New York City that shut down The New York Times and the Daily News for 88 days.
Pressmen and 10 other unions at the Post-Dispatch and The Newspaper Guild at the Globe-Democrat have been working without contracts since Sept. 1.
The executive committee of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild Local 47, representing editorial personnel of both papers, voted Monday night not to sanction the strike.
And International Typographical Union Local 8, representing Post-Dispatch printers, voted only conditional support of the strike. An ITU spokesman said continued printer support of the strike was contingent on the pressmen attempting to resume talks as soon as possible and that representatives of other unions be allowed to sit in.
It has been left up to individual printers to decide whether they will cross the picket lines.
Several printers have said their union has taken manning cuts in past contracts and that they are unwilling to be locked out because another union is fighting similar reductions.
A Guild spokesman said the executive committee's vote was influenced by the feeling that the pressmen had failed to back the New York City Guild when it planned to prolong the strike there after the pressmen's issues were settled.
Also, the St. Louis Guild has been divided by members of both papers who have attempted to quit the union - continuing to pay dues but not being a union member.
Some Guild leaders expressed the fear that this and other divisions would mean that if they sanctiond the strike many members would cross picket lines, thus possibly destroying the union.
Robert Ryffl, president of the Globe-Democrat Guild, told the membership, "I didn't think we could convince you to support a strike over manning."
"It's strictly a manning issue," said Robert Steinke, executive secretay of Local 47.
Post-Dispatch acting managing editor David Lipman said, "the company has sought reduction in manning in such a way that no pressman would be forced to lose his job. We've had 18 meetings, some of them around the clock, with the pressmen, and in those meetings we've reduced our demands on journeyman manning by more than half."
Under the old contract, 174 pressman jobs were required. The company has 154 journeymen and about 14 apprentices filling those jobs.
The company has sought to cut the number of jobs to 140, also reducing overtime.
Guarantees have been offered by the company that the cuts would be made by attrition, with no pressman losing his job. The company has offered a six-year contract on the issue of manning, hoping to overcome fears that further cuts might be sought soon.
Pressmen have taken the position that larger press runs and the expanded use of color by both papers mean they need more, not fewer, workers.
Some Post-Dispatch reporters cross picket lines yesterday despite company assurances that no action would be taken against anyone refusing to come to work. No pickets were up at the Globe-Democrat building. Boch papers announced during pre-strike negotiations that they intended to publish during any strike, but no newspaper were printed yesterday by the Post-Dispatch and it was announced that there would be no Globe-Democrat this morning.
Today's paper was to have been the annual "Old Newsboys' Day" edition, with papers sold on the street by more than 9,000 civil, political, business and entertainment figures for the benefit of children charities. More than $186,000 was raised last year.