Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Charges and Another Hearing In The News-Press Case

I got word yesterday, via Teamsters Union Attorney Ira Gottlieb, that the NLRB has issued yet another complaint against the Santa Barbara News-Press charging it with various violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

They include the firing of sportswriter Dennis Moran (who served on the Union's negotiating team) overall bad faith bargaining, discontinuation of annual raises for 2006, 2007 and 2008, discontinuation of the paper's practice of giving annual performance evaluations for 2007 and 2008, the layoffs of Richard Mineards, DeWitt Smith and Kyle Jahner, the hiring of temporary workers, allegedly for the purpose of undermining the bargaining unit, and the interference with the NLRB's investigatory process.

The hearing on this latest round of charges is set to begin on May 11 and will take place in Ventura in the moot courtroom of the Ventura College of Law. A suitable venue for the hearing evidently wasn't available in Santa Barbara.

By the time the hearing commences, we should know whether or not the News-Press will be required to immediately reinstate the eight reporters it was determined that they had illegally fired. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering the NLRB's appeal of the denial of a reinstatement injunction for the eight in a case it heard on March 11 in Pasadena, and the May 11 start date for this latest hearing coincides with the 60 deadline within which the appellate court must rule.

The May 11 date is just two months shy of the third anniversary of the walkout by the top editors of the News-Press in protest of owner Wendy McCaw's lack of journalistic ethics. The effort to form a union by the journalists who remained began shortly after that. McCaw has resisted the unionization efforts at every turn.

Something that would have made it easier for the journalists in their effort to organize and reach a labor agreement with the paper would have been the Employee Free Choice Act which is pending before Congress.

The proposed Act would force companies to recognize unions if a majority of employees sign cards to join, effectively barring employers from requiring a secret ballot election.

And it would enable either side to request binding arbitration if they can't agree to a contract within 120 days after a union is formed.

If the Act had been in place, the journalists would have had a recognized union long ago and would have had some type of labor agreement in place.

But efforts to pass the measure got a set back earlier this week when Republican Senator Arlen Specter, considered a key swing vote to the measure's passage, announced that he would not be supporting it.

You know, back in July of 2006 when this whole thing started, my son was still in high school. It's looking more and more like he will graduate from college before the labor situation at the News-Press is settled once and for all.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and