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10/20/2004

Reporters’ union fights suspensions over concert attendance

Two weeks after a Minnesota newspaper suspended two reporters for attending a pro-Kerry concert, the reporters’ union is fighting back.
The St. Paul-based Pioneer Press suspended investigative reporters Chuck Laszewski and Rick Linsk for three days after they attended an October 5 "Vote for Change" concert sponsored by liberal political group MoveOn.org.
The paper’s management had asked all newsroom employees not to attend any "Vote for Change" concert because of its connection to MoveOn.org.
Officials from the Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union met with Pioneer Press representatives yesterday. "We asked them to remove the suspensions, restore their pay and remove the information from their files. The company refused, and now we’ll move it to arbitration," Guild Executive Officer Mike Sweeney told Workday Minnesota.
The suspensions are based on a newsroom Code of Ethics policy addressing concerns about objectivity. However, union representatives say the suspensions were unwarranted and limit the rights of workers.
"Both these guys are investigative reporters. Their normal assignment is not politics or elections," Sweeney told Workday Minnesota. "If this is let go, they can come up with just about anything as a conflict," he added.

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