Thursday, August 11, 2011

NLRB Finally Rules, What's Next?

In the back of my mind I always figured that when the NLRB finally got around to ruling on the News-Press' labor relations case I'd probably be off in some distant place and reading all about it from someone else.

As it turned out, when the news broke early Thursday afternoon I was 3,000 miles from Santa Barbara in Edgartown, Massachusetts. But a loyal tipster made sure I was among the first to know about it and I was able to use my blog to pass the news along.

Now, I haven't read all 55 pages of the NLRB's decision (I am on vacation after all) but from what I've seen, it looks like a pretty resounding and total victory for the newsroom employees who were fired or disciplined and for the Teamsters Union who represents them. And let's not forget the lawyers in the General Counsel's office of the NLRB who prosecuted these labor relations law violations.

Without a doubt News-Press owner Wendy McCaw will appeal. She has appealed virtually every other decision that has been adverse to her in this matter but now, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel of these appeals. McCaw can appeal the NLRB's decision to either one of two federal appellate courts: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals (where the NLRB is headquartered) that appeal process could take one to two years. If she loses the appeal then, that is the end of it.

Now, it's true, she could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case but the U.S. Supreme Court gets to pick and choose the cases it wants to take up and unlike the appeal to the Court of Appeals, which has to consider the merits of any timely appeal and give her a decision in writing, the U.S. Supreme Court can summarily reject a petition for review without stating any reason.

According to a Wikipedia article on the U.S. Supreme Court, of the more than 7,000 petitions for review the Court receives each year, it will usually request briefing and hear oral argument in 100 or fewer of those cases. So, getting the Supreme Court to grant review in any given case is a longshot.

The other big question that I'm sure is on everyone elses' mind, assuming the NLRB's decision is affirmed on appeal, is what if McCaw chooses to ignore or defy the order and not offer reinstatement to the eight fired reporters and give them back pay? According to Ira Gottlieb, attorney for the Teamster's Union in this case, if that were to happen, the owner of the paper would probably be looking at a contempt order from the Court of Appeal.

So, this case isn't completely over yet, but we're a whole lot closer to the end.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and