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Security Guard Stabbed in S.F. Newspaper Strike : Labor: Tension rises as company deadline to replace strikers approaches. Talks continue in mayor's office with the help of a federal mediator.

November 09, 1994| From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A security guard was stabbed at a distribution center Tuesday as the San Francisco newspaper strike ended its first week.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the Conference of Newspaper Unions and the two dailies, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner, continued with the help of a federal mediator in Mayor Frank Jordan's office.

Tension has increased as a Wednesday 5 p.m. deadline set by the newspapers approached. The Chronicle and Examiner have threatened to replace any of the 2,600 strikers who do not return to work by that time.

Only a few feet from the labor talks, other city officials were increasingly critical of the high cost of policing the strike, which Supervisor Kevin Shelley estimated at $100,000 a day in overtime.

Supervisor Carole Migden suggested that the newspapers should share some of that cost, generating an angry reaction from James Hale, president of the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, which handles the business end of both papers under a joint operating agreement.

"The working employees at our facilities deserve protection just like anyone else," said Hale. "We, as citizens of this city, are being subjected on a daily basis to violence, intimidation and threats."

Violence broke out early Tuesday at a Hayward distribution center.

Security guard Joseph Legg, 55, was stabbed and guard David Donnelly, 56, was sprayed with a Mace-like chemical when their van was attacked by four masked men outside the site just after midnight, police said.

Up to 30 people were picketing at the time, said Hayward Police Lt. Charley Heitz, and authorities believe that the attack was strike-related.

"We're treating this very seriously," Heitz said. "There was a stabbing there. It could very easily have been a homicide."

Legg remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon.

Newspaper management said that a few hours after the Hayward incident someone fired shots into a San Francisco distribution shed, but police said they found no bullet holes.

Union spokesman Steve Chin said there was no evidence that strikers were involved and noted that all the witnesses cited were newspaper security officers.

Substitute delivery drivers were resorting to strong-arm tactics of their own, Chin said, sending burly security guards to drop off papers at stores refusing to accept them during the strike.

Circulation of the two papers continued to improve Tuesday, management said.

Few papers have been distributed within San Francisco since the strike began Nov. 1, but on Tuesday papers were selling briskly at the Powell Street cable car turntable at Market Street, said Steve Falk of the agency's distribution department. The agency said more than 400,000 Chronicles were delivered throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Union officials say the newspapers are inflating distribution figures by including bundles that are shipped out on trucks but end up sitting on sidewalks or in warehouses.

The walkout began after negotiators failed to reach an agreement on the about 150 delivery driver jobs, a pay raise and other issues. The contracts for reporters, ad salespeople, printers and delivery drivers expired Nov. 1, 1993.

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