Detroit & Michigan NLG Statement on 20th Anniversary of Historic Newspaper Strike

During the historic Detroit newspaper strike, which began on July 13, 1995, hundreds of strikers and strike supporters were arrested on various criminal charges during demonstrations, picket lines, and other protests in support of the strike. The Detroit Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) took on the responsibility of organizing dozens of local attorneys to provide pro bono representation for many of the arrested strikers, and for the vast majority of the arrested newspaper strike supporters. Our NLG chapter was glad to play this essential role in supporting the newspaper strikers, and we are very proud of having been able to provide, in most cases, successful legal defense for arrested strikers and strike supporters.

The Detroit newspaper strike was an historic event in the history of the labor movement in the United States. What Bernie Sanders calls the billionaire class accelerated its assault on the rights of working people during the Reagan administration, with the decision to fire all of the PATCO union members and bring in “replacement workers” (scabs). This use of replacement workers continued in the early 1990s with numerous other strikes, including the UAW strike against Caterpillar in Illinois. In 1995, the corporate power structure decided to back Gannett and Knight- Ridder in a strong effort to break the Detroit newspaper workers’ unions. They believed if they could break the unions in a labor center such as Detroit, they would demonstrate the power to break unions anywhere in the country. The valiant Detroit newspaper workers took up this challenge, and fought mightily defending their right to organize and bargain collectively. Ultimately, the Detroit newspaper unions survived; the power structure’s effort to destroy them failed.

This struggle to defend the right to organize has continued across the country during the years since the Detroit newspaper strike ended. The NLG considers the Detroit newspaper strike to have been an historic victory for working people all over the U. S. On the 20th Anniversary of the beginning of this historic strike, we salute the newspaper strikers of Detroit in their struggle; and we remain proud of the contribution our organization made in support of their fight.

John F. Royal, President                                                   Julie H. Hurwitz, Vice President

Shaun Godwin, Treasurer                                                  Liz Cabot, Secretary

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