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Washington Post Staffers Stage Novel Labor Protest

July 10, 1987|THOMAS B. ROSENSTIEL | Times Staff Writer

Most of the reporters and photographers at the Washington Post withheld their bylines and credit lines from the paper's Thursday editions as a protest of their going one year without a new union contract. The action was expected to continue today.

The so-called byline protest "sends a message . . . to the company and to the newspaper industry as a whole . . . that there is something wrong at the Post," said Tom Sherwood, a reporter and chairman of the Post unit of the Newspaper Guild.

Only seven of the Post's 56 staff-written stories carried bylines Thursday. The sports, business and style sections contained no bylines at all.

Post management and the guild have negotiated for 15 months without agreeing on a new contract, and Post employees have gone two years without a raise, Sherwood said. The old contract expired July 9, 1986.

The major sticking points are a union charge that Post pay scales discriminate against blacks and women, a management proposal to have employees pay a larger share of medical benefits, a guild request that union dues be taken out of paychecks automatically and overtime policies.

Sherwood said blacks and women--who were not hired in large numbers until recently--are generally paid less than white males at the Post because the paper lowered its minimum pay scale in 1976. A black female reporter, Sherwood said, makes on average $10,000 a year less than a white male.

Post Vice President and Business Manager Ted Lutz said he could neither confirm nor deny that statistic, but he said Post reporters make on average $50,000 and that any discrepancies in pay are due to experience levels, merit and seniority, not discrimination.

About 1,100 Post employees would be covered by the new contract, including reporters, copy editors, ad sales people and some persons in the accounting and circulation departments.

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