Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Union Strife? Tell the whole story...

One of these days you will know who I am because you will see me reaching into garbage cans near Starbucks because I see a headline that just has to be written about :)

Today's was one of them in that Travis Armstrong decided to add another chapter to my forthcoming book from the SDLG Center for Union Busting Studies. Today's editorial tried hard to raise fear in our hearts that unions are the cause for just about every social ill one could think of. If you are an aspiring union buster, today's lesson is to purposely leave out information so that your readers think every union is the Teamsters Union (just make sure you say for the twentieth time that they have ties to organized crime as this is a key part of your strategy). Next, make it look like the Teamsters are predator-like and want to attack and devour every employer in Santa Barbara County. Won't we be in real trouble then?

One of my main issues with Armstrong is how he conveniently leaves out key information. To my knowledge, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons workers do not belong to the Teamster's Union. I believe they would be Food and Commercial Workers, no? If one of you could confirm that, I'd appreciate it. Next, Armstrong makes sure that we think the food workers striking and this spread of unionization will "disrupt" our lives. Maybe his life is disupted by Teamster organizing -- not mine! Finally, he can't let a day go by without attacking government. His oft repeated comments about SEIU and election contributions continue to fail to also point out that law enforcement unions have had a far greater impact on local elections than SEIU. Finally, union member or not, rising employee retirement and health care benefits costs are not the fault of collective bargaining -- it is because we have an older population that is retiring later than anticipated years ago. Blame the unions all you want -- but they have the same benefits management and non-represented employees have and they are probably very similar to Armstrong's own at the News-Press.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara--United Food & Commercial Workers Union--1036 is the Local.


3/27/2007 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, you are obviously not one of the "cool heads that will hopefully prevail". Calm down and read the editorial again without your preformed bias. It doesn't say all that you have written.

3/27/2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous GVG said...

I think the scandal around Sheriff Anderson receiving a pension of $184,000 a year for life opened a lot of eyes about government employees' union negotiated retirement benefits. And that had nothing to do with him living longer or retiring later as he collects the pension starting at 52 years of age. Where can you get that in the private sector?

3/27/2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCaw preaches in her editorial, because of unions, "Next prices often go up and quality goes down."

But McCaw has driven lots of readers away. Isn't charging the same for ads that go to fewer readers a price increase by McCaw?

And judging from the thinning paper and the plunging breadth and depth of local coverage and commentary, hasn't McCaw herself pushed quality down, down, down to her and the Baron's levels?

Those who live in glass houses...

3/27/2007 3:40 PM  
Blogger George said...

Sara, you're right, the supermarket workers are part of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

That editorial has to be one of the most disjointed and slipshod in history, not that you can make a story out of it. Armstrong's timeline is so incredibly screwy, just so he can hint at non-existent connections and assertions.


3/27/2007 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an old leftie, sadly I have to agree --unions are a major problem today. Schwarzenegger got this one right.

Decades ago, unions did help create the middle class by holding the US economy in fear of strikes - I remember them well. Steel strikes, auto strikes, coal miner strikes ---- huge national problems when these happened.

But in the long run they sucked the life out of those major industries which are now in the scrap heap of what used to be the middle class engine of America.

And now it is the stranglehold of the public employees unions that are the new economic nemesis.

When you hear the rallying cry "save the middle class" you can bet it has a union label on it. It really means "save the unions."

At least you could measure union productivity in numbers of cars built, tons of steel made or tons of coal mined. There was some measure of union benefit related to union benefits earned.

Until they ended up pricing themselves out of the global market and poof, these heavily unionized industries are all gone, or quickly dying.

But how do you measure the productivity of public employees to see if their union bargains were worth what they contracted for?

And by the same token, how do you measure the union benefit for a newspaper - how can union protected employees lead to increased profits and subscrptions? You can't.

This is why I am an old leftie - who feels we all got mugged by the unions.

3/27/2007 5:27 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Preformed bias or no -- TKA's editorial was again disjointed and always ends up with the same old agenda and editorial bias towards not telling the whole story.

Ex-Sheriff Anderson? Not a union issue -- he's management. He was also the equivalent of a CEO of a large coporation -- I'm not so against a decent salary and retirement plan that makes up for the fact that a Sheriff salary is not comparable to most CEOs. What he shouldn't have done was get greedy and try to do so on his way out -- that's where taxpayers feel betrayed.

3/27/2007 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara De la Guerra said...
Preformed bias or no -- TKA's editorial was again disjointed and always ends up with the same old agenda and editorial bias towards not telling the whole story.

And once again you end up with the same old agenda of nitpicking TKA's every word instead of looking at the issue he is discussing.

Who is the bigger fool?

3/27/2007 5:59 PM  
Blogger George said...

Sara, I don't mean to pimp my blog (too much) on yours, but I took a long long look at today's Armstrong editorial and point out how he never discusses the years of illegal actions by newspaper owners when he examines "union strife."

3/27/2007 6:05 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

George -- no issue with me as it has to do with the subject matter - -thanks.

5;59 PM -- how am I not discussing what he wrote? Do I think everyone will be hurt if the food workers go on strike? No, I don't -- I think we will live. I certainly don't think it's the Teamsters fault or government employee unions. That was only a couple paragraphs of the editorial. So, what is the issue he is discussing? There seems to be several and they are not all related..

3/27/2007 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember one thing from high school, it's teacher saying, "Beware of people with simple answers to complex questions." Anyone can find plenty of examples of unions providing needed protections and examples of unions having a negative effect if not out-out-out criminal behavior. That TKA would (yet again) take a "Unions = Evil" approach insults the readers.

3/27/2007 6:50 PM  
Anonymous jqb said...

2:47 and 5:59 -- you have not provided a single fact or detail; that seems rather foolish to me if you expect to convince anyone of anything.

5:27 -- I doubt that you have ever been a "leftie"; there certainly isn't any "leftie" sentiment or perspective in your counterfactual commentary.

3/27/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

A point that seems to get lost in all of the NP's union bashing is that, back in the early '90s, it took the New York Times Co. and the News-Press management team in place at the time nearly three years to convince employees that they didn't need a union.

Ultimately, a majority of newsroom employees decided they were better off without the union than with it. They voted it out and most benefitted greatly from the decision.

It took Wendy McCaw and the hacks she surrounds herself with just three months to bring the union back. That's impressive!

Unions have their benefits and their drawbacks. They're neither evil nor angelic. They're just another potential institution of power in society.

The easiest way to avoid them, if that's your aim, is to treat employees fairly and with respect. Show them the same loyalty you believe they owe you.

Sometimes there are simple answers.

3/27/2007 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Found it turning to pulp in the gutter said...

Here are some excerpts from the idiotic editorial that is the subject of the posting:

In the latest development, Albertsons workers have voted to allow union leaders to order a strike. The contracts for 65,000 workers at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons are set to expire April 9. Let's hope cool heads prevail.

Teamsters organizers from Los Angeles want to represent certain News-Press newsroom employees and have brought disruptive tactics to our community. No doubt, the Teamsters next will set their sights on other employers in Santa Barbara.

The union historically is known for its past ties to organized crime.

We have many concerns about the spread of unionization in Santa Barbara, particularly when one considers what happens at many businesses once the organizers move in or when a union is certified. First there's strife. Next prices often go up and quality goes down.

One only needs to look to the most unionized sector in Santa Barbara -- the government -- to see the inefficiencies, bloat and lack of customer care. One public employee union, the Service Employees International Union, spends so much money in local elections that our elected officials cave in to them at every turn.

How bad is it? Employee retirement and health-care benefits, gained through collective bargaining at the county and city governments, are so out of hand that they threaten to take big chunks of money away from basic government services.

3/27/2007 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

I am gravely disappointed that Sara De La Guerra ever goes into a Starbucks!

Java Jones, ROCO, Good Cup, or Goleta Coffee Company, please!

Or maybe only the Starbucks Evil Empire gets that rag any more?

3/27/2007 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad we have such a problem with socialism because the countries most socialistic seem to have the largest middle class like Switzerland and Iceland and they both rank very high on quality of life issues and there is modest housing for all -nothing great but adequate housing, sound educational systems, excellent public services, little functional disparity between the rich and the poor and health care for all.

Socialism for all is better than unions for a few.

3/27/2007 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the monthly union dues for the NewsPress workers?

3/27/2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Notice I said near Starbucks, Valerio :)

Didn't go inside...I'm clean!

3/27/2007 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the issue is journalistic integrity, Wendy loses, hands down. If the issue is union organizing, everyone loses. I don't want a paper owned by Wendy any less than I want a paper controlled by a union. The irony is that Wendy may very well have been run out of town by now if not for the polarizing union effort.

3/27/2007 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will be no union dues until Wendy&Co. and employees represented by the Teamsters sign a contract.

And since Wendy&Co. has refused to even recognize the 33-6 election last September that has since been upheld by the National Labor Relations Board, it likely will be some time before both sides sit down at the bargaining table.

3/27/2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

One problem with unions is that eveything gets handed down by seniority. Your work product becomes fungible and motivation to excel is dampened as it is not rewarded on individual efforts.

However...unions are a powerful force in equalizing the wage divide between various critical labor and management groups in an organization. It also helps cut down on nepotism and favoritism in large factory enviroments. In the case of SBNP, it also protects the workers from unfair treatment/ punishment by individual supervisors and managers.

It does tend to setup "us vs them" camps within the company too, so pick your poison I guess.

Same problem with socialist societies, mediocracy for all. Just ask the Brits and Canadians about their socialized medicine.

3/27/2007 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear old leftie - RE: "how do you measure the union benefit for a newspaper - how can union protected employees lead to increased profits and subscriptions? You can't."

Here's how you measure the union benefit: Having reporters on staff who provide accurate information to the community - and by 'accurate' we mean supported by 2 or 3 sources, inclusive of all sides of the story, in accord with journalistic ethics, and fact-checked - leads to more subscriptions, and thus more profits. If you have NO reporters on staff because they have no union protection of their jobs, you have no accurate information to sell, so you get no subscriptions and therefore no profits. Do the math.

3/28/2007 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Teamsters represent the warehouse/distribution workers for the major supermarkets such as Albertsons (now SUPERVALU), Safeway (Vons), Kroger (Ralphs, Food 4 Less), etc. I'm not sure if they represent the stores you're talking about...

I always like the arguement that it's The Unions's fault that jobs moved overseas, factories have closed down, and capitalism has generally functioned like capitalism over the past 30 years. If unions had never existed in this country and workers in the average U.S. factory only made the minimum wage of $5.15, do you really think the major corporations would have kept jobs here when they could pay people overseas pennies an hour? No, they would have moved overseas as soon as possible, with our without the US unions.

Unions helped create the middle class in this country, and the increasing stratification of wealth in the US, and the subsequent demise of the middle class, can be tied directly to the disappearance of trade unionism. Labor unions are just as relevant as they were fifty or sixty years ago, but today's union members aren't just working in factories, they're your nurse, your school bus driver, and your check-out clerk.

3/28/2007 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Canadians I know love their health care system. YOu are just repeating insurance industry myths.

Plus both UK and Canada outscore the US for health quality markers at half the cost. Did you miss the study last year showing the poorest person in the UK gets health care as good as the wealthiest in the US. It was in JAMA I believe - Journal of the American Medical Association.

3/28/2007 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pity that such an inept editorial sparked so much union-bashing and ill-informed commentary on this blog.

Old lefty (5:27), management had an awful lot to do with why manufacturing left this country. Especially auto manufacturing, for example -- they weren't nimble enough to compete with Japanese automakers in the '70's, and didn't build quality cars then. Unionized plants in Germany (e.g., BMW) are doing quite well, thank you very much. In the U.S. aviation industry, it is very heavily unionized, and some unionized airlines (Southwest) do very well, while some less unionized airlines (e.g., Delta) don't do quite as well. It's a function of business plan, which again, is a management problem. In this country, unions seldom have the "control" to be blamed when businesses fail. In fact, the departure from this country of manufacturing and even service jobs has accelerated in the era when unions have been on the decline. It is probably true that if workers are treated with respect and paid decently they will not seek out union representation, but employers often can't help themselves and don't know what they're doing when it comes to employee relations, even if they do know how to make a profit.

"Another ex", it wasn't that the NY Times "convinced" the News-Press employees that they didn't need a union; it was a war of bargaining attrition, wherein the Times' negotiators bargained the union to death, in bad faith. The employees saw no result, and years later, gave up.

Seniority can cause problems -- though there is nothing written that says bargaining parties can't figure out another system for advancement. There are problems with "merit", because supervisors play favorites, don't necessarily have good judgment, and sometimes even disfavor strong union advocates, or people who are "different" from them. Employers sometimes like seniority because it provides a well-known rule for all to follow that is legally sound; as soon as you add management discretion to it, the litigation can begin.

Unions need not engender an "us vs. them" mentality. Wendy is setting a horrible example, but it is she who has trashed the union on her editorial pages and in full-page moronic ads, and it is she alone who has committed serious unfair labor practices against the employees. The few ULP's the News-Press filed against the union have all been dismissed out of hand by the NLRB.

Public employee unions can be and have been a force for productive change while protecting employees from the peculiarities of public agency management. Without unions the employees have no bargaining power at all, and little counterbalance. People rail against the pensions, and there probably will be crises as public agencies don't responsibly fund their pension promises and commitments. But generally public employees have accepted lower wages than market as part of their bargain to have better benefits. The public agencies should be required to keep those promises.

Schwarzenegger is a liar and a thief (or a would-be thief). He broke his promise about funding education, and tried to silence unions' ability to mount political campaigns as one of the few countervailing voices to corporations that outspend unions in the political arena by at least 10 to 1. It would be one thing if all "interest" spending on politics would end and what mattered most was GOTV and people power. We know differently in today's society, and Schwarzenegger's aim in 2005 was not to take money out of politics, but to further accentuate corporate money at the expense of workers' money. He failed, and he should have failed, and it is regrettable that he wasn't tossed out of office.

Returning one more time to the News-Press: management there had nothing relevant to say that was negative about the Teamsters, and this latest screed still relies only on crusty old crap that says nothing about the 2006-2007 struggle. The NLRB judge recently concluded that Armstrong and Steepleton were liars, that the NP's lawyers' arguments were "wildly inflated", "unreliable", full of "incendiary rhetoric", and that their use of precedent was -- very politely put -- "unusual". "Exaggerator" fluster bomb Agnes Huff seems to have been banished from the Queendom in favor of threatener and blusterer Cappello, to little advantage (and probably higher hourly rates). Their spokespeople are in a bubble of fiction, they have promised "facts" that would persuade people of their rectitude and haven't delivered, and their attempts to scare this town with talk of a Teamster takeover are just silly p.r. nonsense.

Eventually I suspect the NLRB will be delivering some serious legal blows to these miserable wretches, and the sooner the better.

3/28/2007 7:33 AM  
Anonymous BE said...

Union Hysteria..
Travis responds with hysteria -laced opinions every time the union makes a move. He cherry picks old cliches about unions and uses anonymous quotes to support his and Wendy's hysterical anti-union obsession. The latest nonsense is aimed at the grocery workers, who may strike if a contract can't be worked out. That is both their rights: to write opinions and to go out on strike! Santa Barbara is a union town unless you are a business with a dispensable workforce, i.e. servers, editors and any number of unskilled, non-essential, non-professionals. Who are you gonna call when the sewer backs up or a pipe breaks? A newspaper publisher? No! A union plumber or a city worker!
This is simple, common and treat the workers fairly. The mafia is not involved, the union is not a gulag, they won't send hit men to your house..these are old cliches the NewsPress likes to dredge up because their workers unionized, which took power away from power-hungry Wendy. Travis cries about the people who bash the Chumash with stereotypes about Indians, and yet he engages in the same smears against the unions! 
 This from a guy who doesn't understand work or the worker. The dude is avid supporter of irresponsible behavior (drunk driving, lying on the witness stand) who hides under the skirt of a clueless rich divorcee and tries to pass judgment on Santa Barbara... he's silly!

3/28/2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Yes, please, just ask them, sa1. I'm know many Canadians and Brits who are suffering, and chomping at the bit to ditch their medical insurance schemes for a system like ours. Hey, I'm not complaining, I have great coverage.... too bad for those unlucky jerks who made a stupid employment choice and have to buy individual policies.

3/28/2007 9:39 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

What are the monthly union dues for the NewsPress workers?

As pointed out, they're not paying yet, but I think a general rule of thumb for union dues is about 2% of salary (I think I pulled that from a union or AFL website). For someone making 45K, that would be about $75/month.

3/28/2007 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Bev Blondage said...

I can't wait to help organize the workers of Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory... one of Wendy's big supporters. Mubwahaha....

3/28/2007 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Ex Copy Editor said...

7:33: You are right about the NYT bargaining the union to death and doing so in bad faith. By that I mean, they refused to negotiate. It was always "take this deal because there isn't going to be another one." And what was the single biggest item we tried to negotiate and which evenutally sunk the union? In my opinion it was the fact that nonunion employees got better benefits than union employees received. Now I must also say, our benefit package was very good, we just didn't have the options nonunion people had. It also must be said, when we dumped the union, the NYT did NOT step on us or attempt any kind of payback for our union activities. That's the difference here, the NYT is a professional organization that respects its employees.

3/28/2007 12:32 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

TA's concerns are obvious at the end of the column: God forbid that any employer should have to provide pensions or benefits or living wages... Let them eat cake!

As for the retired sheriff's pension and the question where would you find that in the private sector? Well, maybe Exxon or Home Depot where CEO's walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars, even when (as in the Home Depot and dozens of other instances) profits and share values have nose-dived.

3/28/2007 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind me why Wendy can't close the whole thing down, if she doesn't like the way things are going since she owns it?

Didn't the 13th Amendment outlaw involuntary servitude? Why the heck do the employees think they can force Wendy to keep the paper open....just for their benefit?

I must be missing something here. Like property rights issues?

The paper is plugging along just fine - Travis is making some good points. And when he is being petty and mean-spirited, no one takes him seriously. Then he just gets either boring or amusing.

It is not noticably bad in any respect. It is okay. It is good enough in today's media milieu. And if that damns it by faint praise, so be it. It is doing just fine. There are other sources now for local coverage and they are doing fine too.

I think you all are missing something playing your pouty games of personal boycotts.

3/28/2007 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allegro, there are only two industrialized countries on the planet that have fee for service (pay when you are sick) health care: United States and South Africa.

Puleez, I seriously doubt Brits and Canadians want to trade their health care system for ours. Ours is hand-down the worst among the industrialized world. Twice as much in costs and ranked number 38 in overall quality according to WHO rankings.

Who on earth would want to trade far superior and cheaper plans for ours when ours is at the bottom?

Let's not make up facts, allegro. This is a serious topic.

3/28/2007 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who ya gonna call when a pipe breaks? - probably the brother of your gardener who does a darn fine job making things work and doesn't come with an attitude.

3/28/2007 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allegro805 at 9:39
What constitues a "stupid employment choice"?

3/28/2007 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My bad "constitute" teehee!

3/28/2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

7:03 and Ex copy editor ought to be careful when using terms such as "bad faith" to decribe the NYT-Newspaper Guild negotiations.

It is neither accurate nor fair, and suggests a lack of understanding of the negotiation process.

Yes, things moved excrutiatingly slowly, but the Guild bore as much responsibility for that as management. Were they acting in bad faith?

Essentially you had a very weak union being led by a clueless dandy from Los Angeles, who promised the employees the world and had no ability to deliver it. The employees wanted lots of goodies but offered virtually nothing in return.

You are correct that the NYT benefit package for non-union employees was far superior to what the bargaining unit was receiving (which, as you point out, wasn't bad).

But it also was common knowledge that the NYT folks were partial to non-union operations, and had little inclination to signficantly sweeten the pot. That hardly equates to bad faith.

Through months of negotiations, no compelling argument was ever offered as to why the Guild-represented employees should be given a big boost in benefits, to match the non-union employees, other than that they were "entitled" to them.

Using entitlement as a bargaining tactic is about as weak as it gets.

You are also correct that once the union was gone, the employees were generally treated fairly and with respect, and in fact received the big benefits boost they had sought, along with pay increases.

None of this is to say that unions don't have their place or that being non-union doesn't have its downside. In the end it comes down to the people involved -- on both sides of the table.

Intelligence, reason and fairness go along way toward providing mutual benefit to management and workers.

Sadly, in the current situation, all of that appears to be lacking on the company's part.

My heart and support, as it always has been, is with the workers.

3/28/2007 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Howard S said...

Hey "Be said," Travis Armstrong is again hiding under Wendy's skirt!

That liar and coward News-Press editorial writer is afraid of being hit back after his limp-wrist slap of another newspaper editor in a recent editorial.

Why should readers believe anything Travis writes, whether it’s his idiotic opinion linking the recent gang slaying to Mayor Blum supposedly not reading a police report on a drowning five years ago, or this attack on the Santa Maria Times, saying their editorial policies are not as ethical as those at the News-Press. Ha! Ha! What a pathetic joke.

Here is an excerpt from today’s Craig Smith’s blog:

“…In his column last Friday, News-Press editorial page editor Travis Armstrong took a shot at the Santa Maria Times and its editor Tom Bolton, singling them out as being “ethically challenged” because of the structure of the Santa Maria paper’s editorial board, which includes news department personnel. Bolton e-mailed Armstrong asking for the opportunity to respond. Not surprisingly, Bolton did not even receive the courtesy of a reply, let alone an offer to make his case directly to News-Press readers.

“This led Bolton to conclude: “While these pretenders are busy lecturing the world about journalistic ethics — a topic they know almost nothing about — they are guilty of violating the most fundamental tenets of our craft. Chief among them is being fair.”

3/28/2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Another Ex: The NYT was more than a little partial against unions. That is one reason why they had such great benefits and treated their employees well. They understood that if they did not offer decent salaries, an excellent benefit package and good working conditions, the unions would step in. They also had a solid reputation in the industry so attracted quality people that they could pick from. Very simple concept, but also very effective. Too bad Wendy didn't figure that one out. She could have saved herself a whole lot of grief and also a ton of money.

3/28/2007 8:09 PM  
Anonymous GVG said...


Let's keep the comparisons apples-to-apples. Exxon and Home Depot are Fortune 100 companies with tens of thousands of employees. The sheriff's department has only 700 which is a small organization by corporate America standards. Corporate executive compensation comes from corporate revenues and assets, government employee compensation comes from taxpayers. Government employee unions donate heavily to get the candidates elected who they believe will grant them the best contracts. Take the firefighters union and Janet Wolf. Not only were they one of her largest campaign donors, they broke campaign election laws in distributing her campaign literature from one their firehouses. It will be interesting to see how she votes on their next contract. Is there any wonder why the county has a liability of over $200 million in unfunded employee pension benefits?

3/28/2007 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:39: Yes, Wendy can shut down her paper, but then she loses her hobby, attention-getting device and plaything, so she won't. If she did, there would be another paper that could thrive in her absence. But the fact that it is her "property" doesn't give her the right to run roughshod over federal labor law, as she has done, and for that she will pay a price.

Another ex, I used the term "bad faith" in the general way it is understood in labor law: having no serious intent to reach a compromise, or an agreement on anyone's terms but one's own. Because the labor laws have deprived employees of almost all of their natural economic power, by restricting secondary boycotts, and offering employers virtually limitless countermeasures to strikes, employees have little leverage in most situations, absent the ability to count on allies beyond the workforce. The fact that the NY Times was willing to "share" better benefits for the workers only after the union was gone proves the bad faith point. And yes, I have no doubt that the NY Times management was far less unprofessional and dishonest than the current bunch of proven liars, swindlers, con artists and self-absorbed narcissistic know-nothings now at the News-Press. But hope springs eternal for success at the bargaining table, because that can indeed be a sobering experience for an obdurate owner and arrogant spokespersons.

3/28/2007 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Campaign finance reform needs to include a prohibition against voting on any city union contracts if you received campaign contributions from that city employee union.

However, the biggest fault lies with the voters who still do not understand when the "police and firemen" support a candidate, it is thier bargaining units supporting the candidate and NOT your good friends - the police and fire departments.

Police and fireperson support for a candidate carries a lot of weight with the misinformed voter because of this deep and exploited misunderstanding. It is the voters here who are really the guilty parties.

Ban any council person from voting or require a public disclosure at the time of the vote the amount of campaign contributions received from that union when the vote is taken on any city employee union contract.

This is basic. Why has this not been enacted?

3/29/2007 7:31 AM  
Blogger Ed Padgett said...

As we watch the situation in Santa Barbara from your South, it’s easy to see similarities among the different companies. The Los Angeles Times Pressmen won the union election on January 6th, yet the Tribune Company has slowed the certification process with trumped up charges of misconduct to the NLRB.

The NLRB has dismissed the charges, but the company will file an appeal tomorrow with the Washington D.C. NLRB. The company continues to tell the employees they will bargain in good faith, and the phony charges show us they cannot be trusted.

The top ten executives at Tribune have created a golden parachute of $269,000,000 incase their services are no longer needed by the new owners of the company, yet call the workers crybabies for seeking a contract.

Good luck to everyone at the Santa Barbara News Press.

3/29/2007 9:36 AM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

Oh there's a good idea. Let's see...if I know a councilmember will have to abstain from a vote if I make a donation, I can figure out who is opposed to me and make a couple of small donations to those guys in order to disqualify them. I CAN RUN THIS TOWN!!

3/29/2007 12:07 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Anonymous 2:43 & 3:17: Relax and go recharge your irony detector.

Sara: I think you might want to more judiciously 'yabba dabba doo' comments such as "afraid of being hit back after his limp-wrist slap". I'm no big fat fan of travis, but I think that particular adjective is pushing the envelope of your guidelines. I hope you figure out what I mean.

Anonymous 7:31am: Why stop there? By the same token, how about prohibiting public officials from any vote affecting anything to do with donors from the private sector as well? Where do you want to stop? How about meaningful campaign finance reform, period? You are beating the drum for this gripe you have with public employee unions, but what about all the official city business that benefits others?

3/29/2007 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They clearest conflict of interest are city employee union contracts and donations to city council persons who vote on them.

They need to disclose any contributions and after a de minimus contribution amount (to be determined), they are prohibited from voting on the contract - yea or nay.

Sam thing for planning commission appeals and complainant/defendent contributions: disclose deminimus amount, thereafter prohibit voting.

If all appearing parties have contributed equitably, then prohibition is moot.

3/29/2007 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Padgett, having monitored both the LA Times and SBNP NLRB proceedings closely, I hate to say it, but for all of its perversely proud anti-union history, the LA Times is losing the "viciousness" contest to Wendy McCaw. The Times hasn't fired anyone illegally (yet), and the lies that were offered by the Times to the NLRB to attempt to overturn that election were closer to being "in bounds" than those presented by the SBNP. In other words, the Times didn't exaggerate nearly as much, didn't have any of its witnesses found to be liars (as the NLRB judge concluded with respect to Armstrong and Steepleton), and hasn't used its editorial pages to trash the union.

At the end of the day, both are examples of why the current labor law works far too much to employer advantage, with built-in delay and little incentive not to keep the legal pot simmering. And, in the end, both newspapers are going to lose their battles to stop certification.

3/29/2007 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know, as a voter and taxpayer, is that everytime I pick up the paper or look TV at something horrible happening in our community, the people in the pictures are the Fire and Police people. They are the ones picking up the pieces and treating the victims whether that it's that poor girl who fell off the cliff or the young boy who died downtown. And I do take their recommendations seriously. And if they get paid well to do their work, good. Everytime my family has needed their help they were there.

4/01/2007 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, effective public safety programs should be a top priority in this town.

But supporting a union funded campaign for individual police and fire employees is not the same thing as insuring an effective public safety program.

There is a partial correlation - these are workers the city needs to competitively fund, but bargaining with voters for more money for higher salaries and wider benefits may not always bring greater public safety.

The problem is as you state - it is easy to confuse the two, and voters do like the police and fire people a lot. That is not the issue.

The issue is the real agenda of their unions needs to be better understood when they fund certain candidates.

If all it was was throwing more money at something to get what we want, we would have "won" the Iraq war years ago.

4/01/2007 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Iraq analogy doesn't fit. Things do get accomplished by our local Fire and Police people, with a workforce that has been dramatically cut during the Armstrong years. Try another one, that dog don't hunt.

4/02/2007 9:38 AM  

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