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On Monday, officials of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, which represents the striking workers of the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, announced they would seek an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board against the Times to cease from what the Guild describes as "threats, intimidation and interfering with employee rights." This action is the latest development in the now week-long strike of the two papers against their parent companies of Knight Ridder and Hearst Newspapers, respectively. The Guild claims that phone calls have been made by Times's managers to striking members, threatening them with permanent job-loss if they do not return to work. About 1,000 employees of the two papers, most of them reporters and editorial staff, have been on strike since a deadline last Tuesday passed for reaching an agreement. At issue is a raise in wages. Talks stalled over a week ago when no further progress could be made on a prospective increase. The Guild had sought a three-year contract with an overall raise of $6.15 per hour, but the union lowered its demand to $3.25 over three years. Management countered with an offer of $3.50 over six years. Currently, the average minimum wage for a Guild-member reporter with six years's experience is $844.88 per week, but some striking newsroom workers make as little as $421 a week. Both papers have been running on a reduced staff, with some replacement workers, and have suffered in terms of coverage and circulation; as a result, Sunday's edition of both papers was noticeably thinner. Given the size of the two papers's circulation and Seattle's increasing national prominence, this may turn out to be the most significant strike action in the newspaper industry since 1996 when workers at the two major Detroit dailies struck against Knight Ridder in an action that lasted two years and left both sides economically wounded.
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