- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Bertram A. Powers, 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 Dec. 23 in the District of Columbia. He was 84.

Mr. 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. Mr. Powers landed on the cover of Time magazine.

Over the next five years, four of New York’s dailies went out of business or were combined, and Mr. Powers’ critics blamed the strike. But Mr. Powers argued that it had less to do with the strike than with the “national phenomenon of newspaper consolidation and attrition,” his son Brian A. Powers said.

In 1974, Mr. Powers negotiated a 10-year contract that assured his members’ lifetime employment and other job protections as newspapers converted printing from lead castings to “cold type,” or computerized pages.

Mr. Powers was born in Cambridge, Mass. He left school after the 10th grade and worked for the government’s Civilian Conservation Corps. He was hit by a truck in 1937, leaving him with a permanent limp.

Mr. Powers lived in New York until nine weeks ago, when he moved for health reasons to Washington to be near his family.

He is survived by two sons, Brian Powers of the District and Kevin Powers, of Buffalo, N.Y.; two daughters, Patricia Inciardi, of Movato, Calif., and Moya Keating, of Chatham, N.J.; three sisters and nine grandchildren. His wife, writer and college professor Patricia Powers, died in 1988.

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