Staffers: 'Intoxicated' Publisher Went on a Tirade

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's John Robinson Block reportedly upset over poster slamming his family
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2019 12:35 PM CST
Staffers: 'Intoxicated' Publisher Went on a Tirade

Contract talks between journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the newspaper have been stalled for two years, and an ugly incident over the weekend probably won't help matters. Staffers have filed a federal labor complaint after they say publisher John Robinson Block came to the newsroom Saturday night, saw a poster reading "Shame on the Blocks!" and went on a tirade, reports the Washington Post. Among other things, they accuse Block of roughly handling his 12-year-old daughter while demanding that a photographer take a photo of him and his daughter in front of the poster. Staffers say the girl was crying and trying to get away from her father. "It was clear he was intoxicated," says one of the witness statements released by the newspaper union.

Twin brother and Block Communications chairman Allan Block described "an unfortunate exchange" in a Tuesday statement. The company "regrets if anyone present may have misconstrued what occurred as anything other than an indication of strong concern and support for the legacy and future of the Post-Gazette," he said. That forced journalists to set the record straight, the president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh tells the Post. "I find it absurd that the chairman of a media company is putting out a lie," says Michael A. Fuoco. The journalists say Block threatened their jobs and threatened to close the paper. It could be months before the National Labor Relations Board responds to the complaint, per WTAE, which has "low quality" videos of the incident. (More Pittsburgh stories.)

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