Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, November 13, 2006

NLRB to Prosecute SBNP

Here's a press release from The Organized:
TO: All media
FROM: The organized at SBNP
DATE: Nov. 13, 2006

Today the National Labor Relations Board informed the Teamsters Union
and the Santa Barbara News-Press that it has decided to prosecute the
News-Press for several violations of federal labor law, in response to
charges filed by the Teamsters.

After an investigation by the NLRB's General Counsel, the prosecuting
arm of the NLRB validated the Union's charges that News-Press management
violated the National Labor Relations Act by cancelling Starshine
Roshell's weekly column in the paper, and by obstructing and threatening
to suspend a group of newsroom employees in retaliation for their
legally protected conduct of delivering a letter to SBNP owner Wendy
McCaw. That letter demanded improved working conditions and an end to
the SBNP's obstructionist tactics in its dealings with the federal labor

The NLRB's decision to prosecute is further vindication of the Union's
and employees' position that the News-Press has not been honoring the
basic tenets of fairness in labor relations, resorting instead to
coercion and intimidation tactics as its modus operandi. Moreover,
since the NLRB has now decided to prosecute the News-Press concerning
management's role in the very incident that the SBNP spuriously claims
as a basis for trying to overturn the Union's overwhelming September 27
33-6 election victory, this is further indication of the frivolous
character of the News-Press' objections, which are interposed solely for
the purpose of delay of the day when Wendy McCaw will have to sit down
at the bargaining table with duly elected representatives of the SBNP's
employees. In short, this latest favorable decision by the NLRB
reaffirms the SBNP as a labor outlaw.

The Union expects that the NLRB will be continuing its investigation
into other of the News-Press' unfair labor practices * including its
most recent, the retaliatory discharge of veteran award-winning reporter
Melinda Burns * and has urged the Board to seek a court injunction to
reverse and eradicate the deleterious effects of the SBNP's unfair labor
practices, including an order of reinstatement of Ms. Burns.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sounds like turf wars between two groups of thugs, Wendy et al, and the union. And guess who's stuck in the middle?

11/13/2006 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovin' the line, "In short, this latest favorable decision by the NLRB reaffirms the SBNP as a labor outlaw."

Outlaw publisher Wendy McCaw ...

Guess they decided to make a federal case out of all this after all.

11/13/2006 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget to call them Union Bosses as well! That really worked for Dan Secord.

And make some mafia jokes, too!

11/13/2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

The end of the game, Wendy. Thank god for labor laws.

11/13/2006 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11/13/2006 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

The Union is fighting for employees who fear for their jobs. McCaw is fighting to put them out of work.

The middle is caught in the middle, sure, but the game is played on the ends by those whose money can pull hardest. Who do you want pulling for you?

11/13/2006 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Control Freak said...

Anonymous 8:44, you are clueless. What have the union and the employees done to warrant the "thug" characterization? The employees voted 85% to be represented by a union, they have been threatened, lied to and lied about by Wendy and her p.r. and legal "team". None of the NP's charges have stuck, and the NP just carries on blithely, telling the world it will abide by the rules of labor relations but doing the opposite: engaging in threats, discharges, coercion, intimidation, and stalling. The NP has the power of endless bundles of money, legions of belligerent lawyers and the operation of the paper, but management is incompetent, venal, malicious and hostile. If it were otherwise, it could settle this dispute relatively amicably, but it has escalated the fight without reason other than paranoia and an obsession with absolute control beyond that which the law, once invoked, permits. This is not a situation where a pox belongs on both houses. The moral side is clearly that of the workers. Check your facts.

11/13/2006 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all-RIGHT to "the organized"......the billion-heir-ess is being reminded that she does not reign in a monarchy. Good riddance.

11/13/2006 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't believe the NP spin machine, Sally Cappon!

From the Lompoc Record:

“They are blowing this totally out of proportion,” said Agnes Huff, spokeswoman for News-Press owner and co-publisher Wendy McCaw.

The story continues:

The NLRB has decided that several cases “have merit to be heard,” Huff said, adding that union officials are “getting ahead of themselves.”

But according to Wikipedia:

The NLRB "is governed by a five-person board and a General Counsel, all of whom are appointed by the President. The General Counsel acts as a prosecutor ..."

Blown out of proportion, Agnes? In the notorious words of Borat Sagdiyev: "Not!"

Looks like Wendy is in trouble.

11/13/2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Control Freak is right on.

Labor law is clunky. But if employees caring deeply about the NP hang in there long enough they will win.

But what will be left? Will the NP have squandered it's potential capital?

Will Santa Barbara's longtme readers hang in there? Will a new generation of readers be cultivated?

So it's time for Wendy to declare victory. Claim you've proved your point. Say that now you've gotten everybody's attention it's time to show just how important the NP is to SB.

Become a true force in the community. Tell it like it is to readers. They'll react. They sniff out phoneys. Become a mover, not one of the shaken.

Welcome back those who have deserted you, employees and readers alike.

Spin it whatever way is necessary. Tell them you've seen the light, you've heard the people, you recognize there are important issue out there that the community must address.

Don't kiss off your potential clout, Wendy. Don't kiss off SB, and the rest of the coast.

11/14/2006 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how this is happening just after the Nov. 7 Republican smackdown. For the past six years, it's been the rich vs. the rest of us. But the party's over, Wendy. The masses have risen up. If you want unfettered power over peasants, go to Burma or Mexico. It won't fly no more here in the U.S.

11/14/2006 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

This Teamsters/NLRB collusion confirms the worst fears of the News-Press managers and readers: that union thugs and their allies are attempting to usurp editorial control from professional newsroom managers.

Jimmy Hoffa and his goons may understand trash hauling in New York, but they know nothing about journalism and running a newspaper. Nor do they know anything about Santa Barbara.

Now they are attempting to dictate to the News-Press which columnists it should feature and which reporters it should hire. The News-Press has amply documented the reasons for removing the Roshell column and for ending the employment of the biased and ethically challenged Melinda Burns. Her pattern of agenda-driven reporting was allowed to fester under former management, even as they documented it in performance reviews, but the current quality-oriented management has put an end to such propaganda masquerading as news.

Now the Teamsters want it back. They will stop at nothing to replace professional journalists with union lackeys and thugs and deny the people of Santa Barbara unbiased news reporting. They are even agitating behind the scenes for the News-Press to be sold, quite possibly to distant corporate interests.

This cannot and will not stand.

11/14/2006 10:11 AM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

If you really understood how to run a newspaper, as you claim, you would STOP LIBELING CURRENT AND FORMER EMPLOYEES. Your insane burger stand analogy was strange enough. But you continue to dig your own hole with your comments on these blogs. Then again, you are having too much fun, right?

11/14/2006 10:37 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Nelville -- I've complimented you on your ability to keep your writing above the fray in the past -- even if I didn't agree with your content. Using the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa, however, to characterize the Teamsters as brutish is a bit much considering he's been dead for so many years....not being a Teamster or even associated with any except through BlogaBarbara, I can't imagine what it must be like to characterized in that way in this new century. In a way, however, I don't blame you considering the responses to your missives which will surely be flying today.

It seems to me bias is in the eye of the beholder and unavoidable to some extent -- many of us see bias in NP management decisions and the customer never right?

11/14/2006 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bleed the paper dry, and squeeze out the remaining dias. We've been waiting.

11/14/2006 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Faux NewsPress is just a plaything of the rich, everything else is collateral damage.

11/14/2006 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

I personally will not respond specifically to Nelvilles rediculous comments because at this point I can only believe that he's posting this tripe because he enjoys our reaction. Even the Nipper - an imposter, no less, a professional social climber, can not be nearly foolish enough to belive his own lies. That doesn't mean he can't tell them, though - just for fun.

11/14/2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, if you had ample documentation on Starshine Roshell's inadequacies, why did the News-Press continue to plug her column in its promotional advertising, up until very close to the time her column was terminated? That the NP did so is a simple fact.

11/14/2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous professor said...

For Nelville and others information, the Graphics Communication Conference has been organizing newspapers for a century and has contracts with many major newspapers today. Their linkup with the Teamsters givs them the deep pockets to do the organizing and litigation necessary to defend members rights.

Among those rights--not to be fired for engaging in union organizing activity. The NLRB seems to have discerned that as the probable reason for Roshelle and Burns firing.

11/14/2006 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, actually, Jimmy Hoffa's son, James Hoffa, is running the Teamsters now. I believe he goes by the name Jimmy, just like his dad. However, considering Nelville's ignorance -- not to mention arrogance -- I am sure he really did mean the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa.

11/14/2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, Nelville, whoever you are, what a barbed reply.

Goons come in both labor and management flavors, I think.

That an NLRB under a really rightwing administration would bring a hearing of News-Press actions says a lot about who the goons really are.

11/14/2006 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Pintito said...

Nelville Flynn has become the new Mike Pinto, always full of deliberate provocation and lunacy in an attempt to get attention, any attention.

Again, if those writers were so biased, then why did the Newspress allow their work repeatedly to be published?

What do the Nipper's hand-picked flak editors do there? Where do the bucks stop?

11/14/2006 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current Teamster prez must be very proud of family heritage. Looks like this apple did not fall too far from the tree.

11/14/2006 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the bias? In the following linked article or the one at the top of this page from the Organized?

11/14/2006 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worker bees can leave
Even drones can fly away
The queen is their slave

11/14/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLRB neocons after the NP? figures.

11/14/2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be out of the loop, Neville. It was just a couple of weeks ago you were praising Edmond Jacoby on this very blog, after I'd said that the NP couldn't attract experienced people to replace departed editors.
You had me on that one -- Jacoby is a real pro.
But very shortly after your post praising him, he was fired. No reason given.
So anyone out there with solid experience and smarts on running a newsroom -- I bet they're REALLY lining up now.

11/14/2006 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Nelville, you have a union now because you deserved one. The independent thinkers that typically make up the ranks of journalists may or may not support unions philosophically but would rarely vote to be represented by one unless the conditions at work are oppressive. Furthermore, anyone who has ever met Melinda Burns knows that she is one of the most objective, unbiased journalists in town. You and the News-Press owners can continue to libel and defame her, but telling a lie over and over again will never make it true.

I have a feeling that the News-Press newsroom got into trouble with Ms. McCaw by not taking up the crusade the save the Santa Cruz Island piggies. Now, demuring on banging the drum on that story may have shown a lack of sensitivity to the boss's sensibilities; but it was not bias. I can see how the owner of the paper could expect stories to be spun to allign with her perspective of the world and, not seeing them so spun assume bias; but such a self-centered approach to analysis seldom yields a correct description of reality.

Good luck with negotiating with the union. As the old saying goes, "It will be real, and it may even be fun, but it won't be real fun."

11/14/2006 3:34 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

Ah, for the days of Jimmy Hoffa... Nelville, et. al. wouldn't be popping off so much if old Jimster were still the boss of bosses!

11/14/2006 5:02 PM  
Anonymous control freak said...

So, Nelville, now that the NLRB -- a neutral government agency created to protect workers' rights -- has decided to prosecute the NP, it must be in "collusion" with the Teamsters? This is typical acute paranoia, wherein a "victim" with a billion to fight her battles bulldozes people, and as each person he/she encounters sees his/her flaws and is in fact harmed by that bulldozer and responds accordingly, the paranoid just places that person on the ever-expanding enemies list. Until there is no one left to trust.

Remember, back in the days before the Teamsters petitioned the Board for an election, the NP said that was the fair way to settle whether the employees wanted representation. When the Teamsters filed a petition with the NLRB, the NP stalled for a while, but the Teamsters eventually overwhelmingly won, and the NP resorted to the patently bogus claim that the election result was tainted. As the NP's stalling on that front continues, the NLRB has decided the NP has violated the law in threatening its employees and cancelling Starshine's column, so now, of course, the NLRB must be biased or in on the Roberts/Union/religious community/journalists/attorneys/professionals conspiracy.

Nelville, it's not about you and Wendy sobbing into your fancy bottled water about losing control of the newsroom, not being able to hire and fire as you please. It has been illegal for 70 years for employers to fire or punish people because they support a union. You can't do things to employees for illegal reasons, Nelville. You might even accept that reality when it comes to race, gender, age and disability. Well, the prohibition against punishing people for union activity goes back further in time than any of those other righteous restrictions on employer vindictiveness.

Talk about ethically challenged! I have seldom seen a more vicious, malevolent and mindless attack on a workforce than I have seen exhibited by the News-Press in these few months. What is helpful about that to the operation of a newsroom? The discharge of Melinda Burns is clearly retaliatory and will not stand.

11/14/2006 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

Given that "Neville" is so clearly an insider speaking for News-Press management, why does he feel the need to hide behind a pseudonym?

Why doesn't he demonstrate the courage of his convictions?

Could it be because commenting under his real name would expose him and his employer to huge legal claims for libel and/or slander?

Most of what he says is patently untrue. Perhaps he thinks the divorcee's cadre of bully attorneys is protection enough against any legal claims, no matter how justified they may be. That could be a serious miscalculation.

And, frankly, Blogabarbara ought to be concerned about its own role in damaging people's reputations. Much of what's been published on the blog about former NP employees goes well beyond fair debate and discussion.

I would imagine that sooner or later one or more of the aggrieved will decide they've had enough.

11/14/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

another ex -- see your point and I think you would agree that I try to let both sides have their say which distinguishes what happens here in that it isn't a one-sided comment area.

Clearly, far more has been written about public figures in News-Press management. One "rule" I've been trying to stick to is that no commenter is identified specifically -- this has been tough with the "Nelville" persona and he has even illicited much of the speculation as far as I am concerned.

Some comments I think former employees may take far more strongly than I would as a non ex-employee. I am also open to anyone pointing out that a comment isn't right and should be deleted -- I have done so several times for both sides of the issue....

I'm doing the best I can here and the best blogs are self-policing -- let me know when sensitive issues or comments come up, I'd be happy to review them.

11/14/2006 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

another ex,

Very thoughtful – I learned something from the first half of your post. Thank you.

I disagree with your brief analysis of blogs, though.

1.) Clearly, everyone should be concerned about damaging reputations. That goes without question.

2.) Fair debate and discussion? Blogs are now a form. One's BS meter must be broken if one can't take a blog for what it's worth. What's it worth? The freest exchange of ideas the world has ever known.

11/14/2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

I am using a nom de plume in order to avoid some of the more vituperative, personal aspects of the debate over the News-Press.

Remember, this debate was launched with catcalls, f-words and juvenile insults directed against Travis K. Armstrong, Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger. As I've previously pointed out, several regulars on this forum have substituted name-calling for serious debate over journalistic issues.

It's important to note that Ampersand management did not malign its critics until they unleashed a nonstop torrent of insults against News-Press managers. Is it libelous to point out that Melinda Burns was repeatedly admonished by previous editors to avoid bias over the past five years and did not correct the problem? Is it slanderous to note that Michael Todd engaged in inappropriate behavior directed against another employee? Is it illegal or even unfair to note that previous editors, reporters and columnists were derelict in their journalistic duties to avoid bias and injecting their views into stories?

This is the discussion the community should be having, not making fun of someone's yacht, their name or their sexual orientation. Critics of the News-Press demean themselves and reveal their true agendas when they stoop to such insults.

11/14/2006 9:13 PM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

"Is it illegal or even unfair to note that previous editors, reporters and columnists were derelict in their journalistic duties to avoid bias and injecting their views into stories?"

One more time, Neville: EXAMPLES PLEASE!

11/14/2006 11:53 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

The COMMUNITY may be having these discussions, but the News-Press is NOT.

This is all more puff and fluff until the News-Press principals (not their lacky Steepleton) actually show up in public and explain themselves to the rest of the public. We know, though, that the only public appearance will be in a legal proceeding by NLRB.

Why are they so afraid?

11/14/2006 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wow, are you on the same planet as the rest of us? I spent over 25 happy years at the NP and your allegations are amazing. My biggest criticism of the old Editorial department was that it was sometimes too UNBIASED, which has all changed in Ampersand's tenure. I think you need to spend some dictionary time and learn what the word BIAS means. In the last 5 years many good employees have left or been fired because Ms McCaw's agenda and BIAS has dominated the Newsroom. Anyone who writes anything that does not reflect Ms McCaw's views is subject to discipline and termination. That is a fact Mr. Flynn. I know, I spent a few years working for Ampersand and have seen it first hand!

11/15/2006 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville, you have many that breathe a sigh of releif when you write the words of truth on this blog. So many choose to attack here but you choose to set the record straight. We can thank you enough.

11/15/2006 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting Nelville: Is it libelous to point out that Melinda Burns was repeatedly admonished by previous editors to avoid bias over the past five years and did not correct the problem? Is it slanderous to note that Michael Todd engaged in inappropriate behavior directed against another employee? Is it illegal or even unfair to note that previous editors, reporters and columnists were derelict in their journalistic duties to avoid bias and injecting their views into stories?

The answers are (the envelope, please): Yes. Yes. And Yes, unless you are living in the Glorious People's Democratic Republic of North Korea under our Beloved Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, watched from a Golden Cloud in Heaven by our Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

Companies run by professionals, as opposed to cork-sniffing poseurs, typically respond to media questions regarding employee issues, such as disciplinary actions, terminations, and mutually agreed upon resignations, with the statement, "I am sorry, but [the organization] cannot comment on that matter, as it is a personnel issue, and therefore confidential." A stronger version of this is, "I'm sorry, but I cannot comment on that issue due to pending litigation."

It is unprecedented to see a newspaper, or any other employer for that matter, using a PR flak to broadcast statements to the entire world about alleged employee misconduct and naming names. At minimum, these statements are legally actionable by Burns, Todd, and Roberts for casting them in a false light. Avoiding libel and slander are principles understood by anyone who has taken a junior-year media law class in college, and are as basic to the practice of journalism as the inverted pyramid, proper attribution, and getting peoples' names spelled right. It's as fundamental as knowing the difference between a real fire and a fire drill.

So, what is Ms. Agnes Huff (diacritical mark deleted) going to gin up about you, Nelville, when you're shown the door, hmmmmm? Might be kind of expensive for the N-P, since PR Newswire and BizWire charge by the word...

11/15/2006 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness, Nelville, you make the juvenile behavior of some NP critics into a reason to evade discussion of any possible fault by the NP.

It is hardly credible that the NP is the first perfect creature since Adam, and any organization that purports to act in the public interest is well served by interaction with the public.

Has the NP itself hosted forums on who it could better serve the community? Is there an ombudsman or reader's advocate at the NP? Are a bunch of lawsuits and press releases winning the community's hearts and minds?

The current publishers of the NP are quite reclusive, unresponsive, and sue-happy. That is their right, just as it is the right of bloggers to make silly comments. But the deeper issue of whether or not we have a useful community daily newspaper anymore is not being discussed by the NP.

Well, we do have the Daily Sound and the Daily Nexus. I hope the News-Press works itself back up to the level of those papers.

11/15/2006 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

Since I can't stoop to address Nelville's direct line of "thinking", I do find it interesting when posts like anon 5:11am show up. Like so many backwards and ignorant methods the Nip, McCaw and their outrageous circus of clowns employ to spin their mistakes into triumphs, I've got a feeling they are the ones throwing up the little "way to go Nipper" type posts.

They probably think they're being clever, and that posting these little "pro-McCaw" statements is like planting seeds that grow into truth trees. Our BS meters aren't broken, Nip. Your perposterous lies will never become the truth.

Nip, your employees are not hanging out on the Calixe pretending to understand the situation. They are in the newsroom, working very hard, and you should get to know them before you slander them in public.

And we're still waiting for examples of Melinda's (or anyone's) bias. Perhaps on the Calixe, where 2 + 2 = 5, Melinda actually is this person the Nip thinks she is - I wonder if they've ever met.

11/15/2006 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, will somebody please invite Steepleton, Armstrong, Wiesenberger, McCaw et al to a public forum? I'm thinking something at the Vic, because the Faulkner would probably be too small. Invite the media. Publicize the hell out of it. And if (when) the five et al don't show up, hold the damn thing anyway with five et al empty chairs on the dais. And then remember how Roberts, Cole and others of the old(er) guard would have graciously attended and explained themselves, in an ongoing and correct effort to make journalism a bit more transparent to the public.

11/15/2006 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Friend of Travis said...

The editorials are so important they should be at the "commentaries" section of the newspress web site.

11/15/2006 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

To answer three questions/points noted above:

1. Sara, it's not enough to stand on the concept that both sides are getting their say. It's one thing if NP management, through Neville, issues some general statement about cleaning house in order to eliminate bias. That's subjective, and we may or may not agree, but no one's really harmed. But when an anonymous voice is allowed to make highly disparaging comments about specific individuals without providing any evidence, that's wrong. Perhaps you'd feel differently, Sara, if your ID were known and you were attacked directly.

2. OK, Neville, so you hide behind a pseudonym because you are afraid of people being mean to you? Well, that's honest, I guess. But isn't it also the definition of cowardice? More to the point, it IS libelous/slanderous and unfair (although probably not illegal) to disparage people's reputations when what you are saying is untrue. You've done it countless times without providing a shred of evidence -- mainly because for the most part there is none. And contrary to your assertions, in several cases you and your cohorts attacked others first. Do you really think the public is buying this smear campaign of yours? I doubt you do. Rather I think you take some perverse pleasure in the pain you and the other pretenders cause others.

3. Worker Bee, I'm not trying to provide an analysis of blogs. I think they're cool and provide a great venue for discussion. But that does not mean they have license to publish anything and everything without consequence. Step out from behind your own pseudonym and allow us to say disparaging things about you -- true or not -- and then tell us about "the freest exchange of ideas the world has ever known." It might temper your view.

Finally, I agree with those calling for a forum to discuss all this, but you can bet the NP folks would never participate. Just like Neville above, they're good at lobbing grenades from the tower, but they don't have the guts to honestly face their opponents. That's been the case from day one of this awful regime.

The cold hard truth is that character cannot be bought, no matter how much money you have.

11/15/2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me the easiest way to disparage people's reputations is tell people they work for the NP.

11/15/2006 1:58 PM  

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