Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Will Appointments In Washington Result In A Decision In Santa Barbara?

It's been over 16 months since administrative law judge William Kocol ruled that the Santa Barbara News-Press wrongfully fired eight of its reporters. Wendy McCaw, the paper's owner, promptly appealed that ruling to the National Labor Relations Board. The affected reporters and those who support them have been waiting ever since.

Why the long delay? No one can say for sure, but the speculation has been that the delay has been due to a short-handed NLRB. The five-member panel has been operating with just two members since late 2007, amassing a backlog of cases.

On Tuesday, it was reported that President Obama has nominated two veteran labor lawyers to the Board.

If confirmed by the Senate, they will join the board's chairman Wilma Liebman as the Democratic appointees to the panel. The panel has one Republican appointee and one vacancy.

One of the nominees, Craig Becker is currently associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union. The other nominee, Mark Pearce, is a career labor lawyer in private practice.

Those in the know are predicting that the unions will be happy with the new appointees. That means a certain newspaper publisher in town will be very unhappy.

And by the way, the news of the new appointments came on the same day that the News-Press used its editorial page to reiterate its opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

Of course, if the Employee Free Choice Act had been in place, the labor dispute between the News-Press and the Teamsters who represent the paper's newsroom employees would probably have been resolved by now.

And while I'm on the subject of labor violations and the News-Press, the next round of labor hearings involving the News-Press will begin on May 11 with preliminary motions. Those hearings were originally going to take place in Ventura, but the location was recently changed to the Santa Barbara College of Law here in town. Actual testimony in the case is scheduled to begin on May 26.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and