Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teamster Victory Will Have Them Rallying Around The Bulletin Board

Has there ever been a labor union that has won so many battles against an employer, yet had so little to show for it?

As far as I know, that distinction must belong to the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union which represents the newsroom employees of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The News-Press was recently found to have committed yet another violation of the National Labor Relations Act by issuing subpoenas to current and former employees requesting that they surrender copies of affidavits they had submitted to the Labor Relations Board's attorneys.

In a ten-page ruling handed down on February 5, administrative law judge Lana Parke concluded that the News-Press' "twice-repeated attempt to force current or former employees to disclose protected witness statements" can reasonably be expected to have a chilling effect on employees’ right to cooperate in Board investigations.

She went on to say that the News-Press issued the most recent round of subpoenas "in a work environment tainted by the numerous, serious unremedied unfair labor practices." In those circumstances, she continued, it is not only reasonable, but nearly unavoidable, to infer that in issuing the subpoenas, the News-Press was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to quell employee willingness to give evidence to the Labor Relations Board.

Pretty strong language, eh? (Sorry, been watching too much of those Canadian Olympics) In light of it, you'd think that having been found guilty of such a flagrant violation the News-Press would be ordered to pay a hefty fine or that owner Wendy McCaw would be subjected to being drawn and quartered, or at least ordered to say a dozen Hail Mary's.

No way. The punishment is (are you ready) to require the News-Press to post a notice saying, "WE WILL NOT issue subpoenas to current and former employees prior to their testimony at a National Labor Relations Board hearing that request copies of affidavits they have submitted to the National Labor Relations Board in an unfair labor practice investigation."

The nuns at the old Catholic school in my neighborhood in L.A., Our Lady of the Broken Window, were a lot tougher than that.

Chalk it up to the lack of teeth in the federal labor laws.

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You've no doubt heard about how Frank and Jamie McCourt, who own the L.A. Dodgers, are divorcing. Michael Hiltzik's column in the LA Times today explores how the couple, who own eight houses, including four in Holmby Hills and Malibu, have paid zero federal and state income tax.

Where is the Tea Party when you need them?

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Say it ain't so! According to Restaurant Guy John Dickson, the Downtown Brewing Company, which opened its doors in May of 2007, has closed.

Never did figure out what was up with that "Downtown" in the name, when that 3700 block of State Street location clearly put them "uptown."

Hopefully, the place won't reopen as a marijuana dispensary.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and