Thomas Bernick Papers

Accession Number: 
5 linear feet (5 SB)

Thomas Bernick was a journalist and active protester of The Detroit Newspaper Strike, which began on July 13, 1995 and lasted until 2000. An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 workers from six local unions joined the strike and participated in the lengthy battle against the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press in the courtroom. Battle outside the courtroom took place as well, with protesters making numerous reports of violence by a private security firm and the Sterling Heights Police Department. Journalists fought back by creating their own paper in 1996, the Detroit Sunday Journal. The Journal achieved a circulation of 300,000 in its first year and was widely hailed for reporting throughout its run, which ended in 1999.

In 1997, the unions ordered an unconditional return to work, but the newspapers chose to keep their replacement workers on staff, stating they would only hire strikers as positions opened up. The strike finally came to an end in 2000, but many of the strikers did not return to work for the newspapers, and the circulation of both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press was greatly reduced from that of the 1980s and early 1990s.

The Thomas Bernick Papers contains court documents, meeting materials, photocopies of articles about the strike, and a full series of the Alliance Strike Bulletin, a newspaper run by the Metropolitan Council of Newspaper Unions. Additionally, this collection holds correspondence, circulation numbers, strike-related periodicals, and meeting materials for the Workers Justice Committee, as well as many of the flyers and pamphlets distributed throughout the strike, both for and against it.

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