Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wendy's Primary Colors: Yellow and Red

While I was in New York City over Labor Day weekend, a couple of readers e-mailed to tell me about the full-page ad that ran in Sunday's edition of the News-Press urging Santa Barbarans to "unite as a community" against the Teamsters.

With no way of actually seeing the ad, I was hardly in a position to comment on it. But yesterday, my first full day back home, I swung by the Goleta library and dug a copy of Sunday's News-Press out of the stacks and took a gander at the ad.

I thought McCarthy-like fear tactics went out of vogue in the late 1950's. They appear to be flourishing inside Wendy's house of horrors.

That headline shouting "Stay Alert Santa Barbara" suggests that there must be a lot of red ink at the News-Press these days.

I'll save you the trouble of rummaging through your desk drawer looking for your magnifying glass so you can read the fine print in the photo of the ad. Here's what it had to say:

Theft: In the past month the Santa Barbara News-Press has been the target of organized crime. Hundreds of counterfeit News-Press checks have been sent from Las Vegas and the Bronx via UPS to addresses across the country. There have been victims in this financial fraud as some of these checks have been cashed.

Vandalism: In the past two weeks on six different occasions, employees of the Santa Barbara News-Press have had their car tires slashed and the air let out while parked in the employee lot of the Santa Barbara News-Press

Intimidation: The Teamsters have staged unlawful secondary boycotts at local Santa Barbara businesses and harassed their customers. The Teamsters have used young children to parade anti-News-Press messages on their balloons. Teamster members have even intimidated News-Press employees, harassing them in dark parking lots at night.

What You Can Do: If you witness any acts of theft, vandalism, or intimidation, call the Santa Barbara Police or 911. If you can safely take a photograph for evidence, please send a copy to the Police and us.

We must unite as a community, stay alert, and let anyone who commits reprehensible acts of theft, vandalism, and intimidation know that Santa Barbara is not going to tolerate these tactics.

What? No accusation that the Teamsters are responsible for global warming?

The News-Press ran a story on the check scam back in early August. According to that article a report on the fraudulent checks was made to the police. I guess the Wendy couldn't hold off on running the ad until the police had concluded their investigation. After all, the investigation will in all likelihood clear the Teamsters and then who will she have left to point her finger at?

The tire slashing was also reported in the News-Press. That article identified a copy editor as being one of the victims. Of course a copy editor would be in the newsroom bargaining unit represented by the Teamsters. I find it a little hard to believe the Teamsters would slash the tires on the car of one of their own union members.

The assertion that Teamster members have intimidated the paper's employees by harassing them in dark parking lots, was actually the subject of an unfair labor practice complaint made by the newspaper. The NLRB dismissed that claim. Considering the fact that the dismissal was reported in the News-Press, I can only conclude that not even Wendy is reading her own paper anymore.

When I asked Union attorney Ira Gottlieb for a comment on the ad he had this to say: "The Teamsters deny any involvement in either the alleged check fraud or tire slashing, and the (News-Press) is engaging in its usual habit of making accusations without evidence."

With reference to the allegation that the Teamsters have been staging unlawful secondary boycotts, Gottlieb said, "The Teamsters' activities with respect to handbilling is lawful, protected by the U.S. and California Constitutions and not prohibited by any applicable law."

My own thought is that Wendy's attempts to whip up anti-Teamster sentiment in the community will ultimately prove to be futile.

It's not "Teamster tactics" that have damaged the News-Press but rather Wendy's own stubborn insistence that the newspaper reflect her voice and her voice alone.

I know, I know. It's her paper and she can put whatever she wants in it. But if she wants to sell it to the rest of us, she better wake up and smell that red ink.