Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hearing Wraps, Lawyers Pack Up

Tuesday was the day that the NLRB vs. News-Press hearing resumed after a recess of several weeks. It was also the day that the hearing ended.

Late Tuesday afternoon I dropped by the classroom at Santa Barbara College of Law, which was serving as a courtroom for the proceedings, just in time to hear attorney Barry Cappello, who represents the paper, putting the finishing touches on his final argument.

Now it will be up to administrative law judge Clifford Anderson, who told the attorneys at the conclusion of the proceedings that he found the matter to be an "interesting case" but not a "slam bam" case, to sift through the 3,500 pages of testimony transcript as well his notes and the written briefs of each side, which are yet to be filed, and to come up with a decision.

NLRB attorneys Steve Wyllie and Joanna Silverman with union attorney Ira Gottlieb, after yesterday's hearing.

Not that his decision will actually decide anything once and for all. After all, it was just about two years ago that another trial involving these same parties wrapped up and by the end of that year, another administrative law judge, William Kocol, had issued his own decision basically finding the News-Press guilty as charged on all counts. Yet, none of the newsroom employees he found to have been wrongfully fired have been reinstated and no one has received any back pay.

News-Press owner Wendy McCaw never met an appeal she didn't want to take. She appealed that decision and she will undoubtedly appeal this one if she doesn't like the outcome. Those appeals go to the full National Labor Relations Board, although for some time now, the term "full board" has become an oxymoron when applied to the NLRB. As Judge Anderson explained to the parties in open court Tuesday afternoon, "We can't get a decision out of anyone. The board is two people. They're not writing anything that is controversial. Anything that is of difficulty or complexity is going to be put in a back vault somewhere."

The five-member panel has been operating with just two members since late 2007, amassing a backlog of cases. Until President Obama's appointees to the NLRB are confirmed by the Senate, time will continue to be on Wendy McCaw's side.

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Noozhawk reports that Issac Garrett has entered the mayor's race. JMike has dropped out.

Is this an election or a game of musical chairs?
© 2009 by Craig Smith and