Monday, September 17, 2007

After A Year of the Run-Around, Is Wendy Finally Ready To Sit Down?

Despite asking to decertify the union formed by newsroom employees, the News-Press may nevertheless be willing to sit down across the table from them.

When I contacted Union attorney Ira Gottlieb early this past Saturday morning to get a comment on the article that reported that the paper would be asking the NLRB for decertification, he hadn't yet seen the motion that had been filed making that request.

When Gottlieb went into his office later that day the motion was waiting for him along with a letter from News-Press attorney Michael Zinser saying that although the newspaper was filing a motion for reconsideration of the certification they are going to get in touch with the union's negotiator as early as today and presumably set dates and locations for the negotiations.

The letter apparently came in response to an official demand to bargain delivered to the paper's associate editor Scott Steepleton back on August 28th. NLRB rules say that a reconsideration motion, such as the one the News-Press filed, does not put on hold the effectiveness of the certification of the union.

The Union's negotiation team will be led by Nick Caruso. Employee members of the newsroom bargaining unit are expected to participate in the bargaining sessions but Gottlieb declined at this time to identify who they are.

A couple of readers e-mailed to point out the fact that the Saturday article in the News-Press about the request to decertify seems to confirm that double standards appear to be alive and well at the paper.

The article was written by Steepleton one of the paper's witnesses at the January hearing on the very issue in contention, whether the march to McCaw's office had an intimidation factor, and one whom the judge who heard the case refused to give credence to.

And no, Steepleton did not include or apparently even attempt to get a quote for the story from someone on the union side. When he testified in the NLRB hearing that is currently underway, Steepleton cited former reporter Anna Davison's failure to include a quote from an opponent of tree removal on lower State Street as evidence of biased reporting on her part that ultimately got her fired.

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So how many people were willing to go on camera Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market and say something nice about Wendy McCaw or the News-Press?

According to documentary filmmaker Sam Tyler, he and his crew conducted four brief interviews over the course of an hour and a half. Two spoke favorably of McCaw's support of animal rights. Two more defended her "right" to do whatever she wants with her business, including firing employees who disparaged her product.

Tyler added that he has four more weeks of filming before moving to the final editing stage in preparation for the January 11, 2008 premiere of his film at The Arlington Theatre.

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So, what do the news anchors and talk show hosts who work on the 24 hour cable news networks call O.J. Simpson who, nearly 12 years after he was acquitted on murder charges, still gives them plenty to talk about?

"The gift that keeps on giving!"

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