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Philadelphia Tribune workers mull strike after paper allegedly refuses to provide safe working conditions

The Hill logo The Hill 8/14/2020 John Bowden
a large body of water with a city in the background: Philadelphia Tribune workers mull strike after paper allegedly refuses to provide safe working conditions © Getty Philadelphia Tribune workers mull strike after paper allegedly refuses to provide safe working conditions

Employees at the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continuously-running African American newspaper in the country, are reportedly mulling a strike over working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday that union leaders are accusing management of failing to provide masks to reporters who were called back to work in the newsroom in late May, and failing to promote social distancing in the workplace.

"This is a pandemic, and it's affecting each and every one of us," said Chris Woods, president of District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Workers, which represents around 10 employees in the newsroom. "An employer is required to do everything possible to make sure the environment in which people come to work is safe."

An independent contractor serving as the Tribune's director of administrative services reportedly declined the Inquirer's request for comment. Woods added to the Inquirer that the employees his union represents could organize a strike if conditions do not improve, while confirming that they have already filed grievances with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A union memo reportedly informed employees earlier this week that an inspection carried out by the union had found that management "failed to provide even the most basic protections for office workers" amid the pandemic, which has reached nearly 32,000 confirmed cases in Philadelphia County according to city officials.

The state's governor, Tom Wolf (D), has ordered businesses to allow workers to remain at home whenever possible.

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