Pittsburgh Post-Gazette union president Mike Fuoco resigns following investigation into alleged misconduct

click to enlarge The Post-Gazette offices on Pittsburgh's North Side - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM

CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

The Post-Gazette offices on Pittsburgh's North Side

Today, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president Mike Fuoco has voluntarily resigned, according to a press release obtained early by Pittsburgh City Paper. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh represents about 120 journalists that work at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the region’s largest newspaper.

Fuoco’s resignation was submitted to the guild’s executive committee last night. According to the release, the parent unions of the guild first notified local union leaders of an investigation into Fuoco concerning allegations of violations of the mutual respect policy to which every Communication Workers of America member is expected to adhere.

This investigation follows reports from labor reporter Mike Elk of the PayDay Report about allegations of sexual misconduct, allegedly perpetrated by Fuoco. Elks said there is still more investigation to be done concerning allegations made against Fuoco.

“There are still lots of unanswered questions about what Post-Gazette leadership, Point Park, and Pitt knew as multiple complaints were made to all three institutions,” said Elk.

Fuoco, who is also a longtime reporter at the Post-Gazette, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. There is no mention of Fuoco resigning his job as a reporter.

The press release notes that the guild is “fully committed to upholding the policy, which opposes all forms of discrimination” and the local union is cooperating with the investigation, which is being conducted by the Communications Workers of America’s president office. The parent unions of the guild are NewsGuild-CWA and the CWA.

“Our union does not tolerate discrimination or harassment at any level,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss.

According to the release, local guild leaders at the Post-Gazette did not have evidence either to substantiate or disprove the allegations that are the subject of the CWA investigation.

Guild vice-president and P-G transportation reporter Ed Blazina will assume the president’s role until an election can be held.

Fuoco’s resignation as guild president comes as the guild members are on verge of a strike at the Post-Gazette. In July, ownership announced they were implementing a new contract, but the guild said the owners had unlawfully declared an impasse, and so the union members voted to authorize a strike. Since then, the guild has gathered support from leaders and institutions around the region, and got the endorsement of The Newspaper Guild-CWA. Now the strike authorization awaits a decision from the CWA.

click to enlarge Mike Fuoco speaks to reporters in support of Post-Gazette journalists Alexis Johnson and Michael Santiago on June 8, 2020. - CP PHOTO: JULIA MARUCA

CP photo: Julia Maruca

Mike Fuoco speaks to reporters in support of Post-Gazette journalists Alexis Johnson and Michael Santiago on June 8, 2020.

Guild members haven't seen a raise in more than 14 years, and their contract hasn’t been renewed for more than three years. Over the last couple of years, the work environment has been chaotic at the P-G, with owner John Block throwing a newsroom tirade in 2019, former executive editor Keith Burris writing and publishing racist editorials that the guild has openly protested, and management barring Black journalists Alexis Johnson and Michael Santiago from covering Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Santiago has since left the newspaper.

The guild held a large rally on Friday calling for management to come back to the negotiating table.

In the press release, the guild addressed how the investigation into Fuoco's alleged misconduct comes across as the guild has been detailing misconduct perpetuated by ownership. “Above all else, this union and the members of the executive committee are in place to guarantee a safe and fair work environment,” reads the press release. “We are committed to upholding those values. We are committed to making sure every member feels heard and protected.”

A request for comment from P-G management was not immediately returned.

Today at 3 p.m., guild members will be holding a Zoom call to address any concerns and attempt to provide answers to questions members may have. According to the release, the guild is also re-establishing a human rights committee within the union that “will serve as a place where members can report complaints about the conduct of executive committee members or by other people in the membership.” The human rights committee will be co-led by P-G opinion editor and page designer Alyssa Brown and tech reporter Lauren Rosenblatt.

The guild is encouraging anyone with information about discrimination or harassment by a NewsGuild-CWA member to contact an executive committee member or email guild@cwa-union.org, which will be received by Schleuss.