Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't Count On Her To Do The Right Thing

"I'm disappointed. But the judge made his decision and I will accept it, even if I disagree with it."

Well, that's a 19 word phrase that will never come out of News-Press owner Wendy McCaw's mouth.

Truth is that McCaw is determined to appeal and seek to overturn an administrative law judge's determination that the News-Press and its corporate alter ego (that would be her) have committed multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

In other words she's threatening to hold the newspaper readers of this town and eight of her former employees hostage for another year or two.

She seems to think that she has enough money to outlast any and all challenges to her stubborn determination to run her corporate fiefdom outside of the rules of labor law.

The history of labor law as a system to protect workers long predates McCaw's presence on this earth and it doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. And I wouldn't expect the Teamsters to walk away from this fight anytime soon, or ever for that matter.

The News-Press supporters, who appear to be vocal although few in number, harp about McCaw's right to run her business as she pleases without outside interference and without regard to the National Labor Relations Act which they characterize as being unconstitutional or worse yet "un-American."

While the notion that one is free to do whatever one pleases in running their business has a certain libertarian appeal to it, in what phase of life has that ever really been true?

You can't erect a Swiss Chalet in the middle of Santa Barbara's El Pueblo Viejo district (even if your chief item of sale is fondue) and you can't have your delivery trucks speed 100 miles an hour down Highway 101 to deliver your newspapers to their destinations. We all have to live under a system of laws and rules and labor law is such a system. Why does McCaw persist in maintaining that such a system doesn't apply to her?

Yes, McCaw can hold out hope that Judge William Kocol's decision will be overturned but as far as I can determine his track record of being upheld is a pretty good one. Personally if I want to play long shots I'll head over to the Watch & Wager facility at Earl Warren Showgrounds. At least that way I can have a beer and a hot dog while I say bye-bye to my money.

Besides, the legal system seemed pretty good to Wendy when it was awarding her half of her ex-husband's fortune. Why is that same legal system suddenly dead wrong now?

When he addressed last Wednesday afternoon's gathering in De la Guerra Plaza, former Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon pointed out that it's not too late for Wendy to do the right thing.

Cannon is right. This is a forgiving community. There are reporters out there who need jobs and, in my opinion, the News-Press needs some reporters. I know for a fact that former reporters Melinda Burns and Dawn Hobbs are ready to accept offers to return to their old jobs.

I found Wendy's New Year's Day message, published on the front page of the paper, pretending that everything at the News-Press is hunky-dory to be pretty insulting.

The News-Press is not the paper it used to be. You know it, I know it and half the county knows it.

Wendy is not going to be able to hold out forever. I wish she'd come in from the cold.

* * *

The News-Press has asked for and received a 30 day extension to file their "exceptions" to Judge Kocol's ruling. The exceptions are now due on February 25th.

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