NEW YORK -- Striking Daily News workers early Friday firebombed delivery trucks and hurled rocks and bottles at non-union replacements during the second day of a bitter walkout that could determine whether the nation's largest daily tabloid survives.
Hundreds of workers picketed outside the paper's three printing plants and midtown Manhattan headquarters following the early morning violence that erupted after seven of the newspaper's 10 unions walked off the job Thursday night.
Union and management officials said no meetings were scheduled. News officials vowed to get out a paper with non-union employees.
The Newspaper Guild, which represents some 800 editorial workers at the paper, Friday voted to join the strike as the Stereotypers Union considered similar action.
Only the printers union said it would cross the picket lines, citing the need to protect their lifetime job guarantees -- plans they made known months ago.
The strike left union representatives deeply pessimistic about the future of the financially troubled tabloid as management struggled to put out the newspaper with non-union replacements.
'One way or another, the News is dead,' said Ted Kheel, the unions' chief lawyer. 'It's just a matter of time before the burial ceremony takes place.'
The walkout came after News officials fired 200 drivers who left their job at the News' Brooklyn plant during a pre-dawn dispute over whether a union member claiming a medical disablity could sit down while working on the job.
Less than an hour after the argument, the News sent in a busload of non-union replacements who were promptly attacked with by rock and bottle-hurling union workers in a confrontation that left delivery trucks burned or destroyed and a number of non-union workers and police officers hurt.
The violence was repeated later Thursday and early Friday in Brooklyn and at the paper's two other plants in Garden City, Long Island and Kearney, N.J., the striking workers tried to stop replacement workers from entering and delivery trucks from leaving.
Police said at least nine union workers have been arrested in the last two days on various charges in New York and New Jersey.
The strike brought to a boil a simmering dispute that began 10 months ago when the Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns the News, opened contract talks vowing to seek millions of dollars in cost reductions and impose sweeping control of hours and working conditions.
The company has insisted union concessions are essential to keep the newspaper from drowning in red ink.
Labor leaders, from the outset, have claimed that the company wanted to provoke a strike to break the unions as part of a plan to either close or sell the tabloid -- the nation's biggest daily tabloid and the second largest circulation newspaper in the country after the Los Angeles Times, with just under 1.2 million readers.
The unions have been working without a contract since March 31.
The News, meanwhile, said it planned to put together a Saturday edition with permanent workers they hired to replace striking employees. In a written statement, the company said it published 611,000 copies of the newspaper Friday and intended to 'improve performance each day until normal distribution is reached.'