Thursday, May 05, 2011

Small Group of Employees Seeks to Oust Union at News-Press

Eight people who work in the newsroom at the Santa Barbara News-Press have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking that the Teamsters Union be decertified.

According to a press release from Union attorney Ira Gottlieb, the Union was notified of the filing of the petition on Tuesday and the petition was reportedly signed by eight employees, or about 30 percent of those workers who are in the bargaining unit. The Graphic Communications Conference is the division of the Teamsters that represents newsroom employees at the paper. I am assuming that none of those who signed the petition are actually members of the Union itself, but rather are only among the class of employees who are eligible to be represented by the Union.

According to Gottlieb, the petition is likely to be dismissed by the NLRB due to the numerous charges of unfair labor practices and allegations of union-busting that are still pending against the News-Press. Over the last four and one-half years, three administrative law judges have found that the News-Press has violated various provisions of the National Labor Relations Act including the firing of eight reporters for their union organizing activities. The newspaper has appealed in nearly all of the cases and the appeals are still awaiting final resolution by the full Labor Board.

The Union has represented the employees of the newsroom since September of 2006 when they voted 33 to 6 in favor of having the Teamsters represent them. This followed the tumultuous events of July 6, 2006 when top editors and other employees of the paper resigned over what they perceived as meddling in news reporting by the paper's multi-millionaire owner Wendy McCaw.

The saga of the conflict between ownership and employees of the News-Press has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Vanity Fair and even a documentary movie, Citizen McCaw.

McCaw is a person of few words, at least publicly, but one thing she has made clear over the last five years, both by her conduct as well as her words, is her staunch opposition to unions in general and specifically the existence of a union at her newspaper.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and