Robert and Anne Musial Papers Now Open for Research

No Scab Papers

In May 1995, collective bargaining negotiations began normally between the jointly operated Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News and the six unions representing the workforce at The Detroit Newspapers (DNA), Teamsters Local 372, Detroit Mailers Local 2040, Newspaper Guild Local 22, Graphic Communication International Union Locals 13N and 289M, and the Detroit Typographical Union Local 18. Negotiations broke down two months later when the DNA tried to back out of the joint bargaining format with the six unions that had been in place since 1989. In protest, approximately 2,500 employees of the DNA walked out to strike on July 13, 1995. Robert Musial, a striking newspaper worker, gathered the material in this collection to document the strike from his perspective.

What followed was a years-long tumultuous battle, which included local boycotts of the Free Press and the Detroit News, the formation of the Detroit Sunday Journal run by the strikers, legal charges and proceedings of unfair labor practices, and violence.

The strike ended on February 14, 1997, with the strikers receiving an unconditional offer to return to work. However, throughout the duration of the strike the DNA had hired close to 1,400 permanent replacement workers and insisted on only rehiring the former employees as vacancies became available. By April 1995 only 200 of the striking workers had returned.
During the strike the six unions had brought their allegations of unfair labor practices to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In 1997 the NLRB ruled that the DNA had indeed violated federal labor law, however the ruling was reversed three years later by federal courts.

Among the collection’s documents are pamphlets and flyers calling for public support of the strikers, and benefits and drives for the displaced workers and their families. Strike songs also played a role for the striking workers, with 3 songs specifically that were to be recorded and distributed: “DNA Rag," “The Battle of Gate 3," and “The Song of the DNA Air Fleet."

The Robert and Ann Musial Papers also include correspondence, agreements, news clippings and articles, photographs, internal management memos from the Detroit Newspapers, reports, and press releases, strike updates and information, resolutions, hearings, Knight-Ridder Publications, Alliance Newsletters, and various issues of newspapers covering the Detroit Newspaper Strike from pre-strike through its conclusion.

Article by Elizabeth Nicholson, staff member at the Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs.