Bertram A. Powers, 84; led strike against eight New York papers
Bertram A. Powers, 84, the former head of New York’s newspaper printers’ union who led a 16-week strike in the 1960s that paralyzed the city’s dailies, died of pneumonia Saturday in Washington, D.C., said his son, Brian A. Powers.
Bertram Powers led New York’s Local 6 of the International Typographical Union for 29 years until his retirement in the mid-1990s. In December 1962, he called the union’s first strike in 88 years against New York’s eight daily newspapers over demands for higher wages and a contract set to expire at all the papers at the same time.
The walkout shut down four papers, led to a lockout at four others and affected 20,000 employees before a settlement ended it April 1, 1963. Over the next five years, four of New York’s dailies went out of business or were combined, and Powers’ critics blamed the strike.
In 1974, Powers negotiated a 10-year contract that assured lifetime employment and other job protections for his members as newspapers converted printing from lead castings to “cold type,” or phototypesetting.
Powers was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1922. He left school after the 10th grade and worked for the government’s Civilian Conservation Corps.