Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NLRB to prosecute News-Press Again

A press release from the Teasmters...Sara

The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board announced after an investigation into the recent discharge of Santa Barbara News-Press reporter and copy editor Dennis Moran, who also serves on the negotiating committee of the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, that it will prosecute the News-Press for again violating federal labor law by firing Moran.

"It is regrettable that the News-Press continues to punish its conscientious, hard-working employees because they support, and are active in the Union", said Ira L. Gottlieb, of the firm Bush, Gottlieb, Singer, López, Kohanski, Adelstein & Dickinson, counsel to the Union. "Managment's intimidation tactics are blatant and transparent, but they will not deter the employees who still courageously support the Union and each other in their steadfast efforts to achieve a fair employment contract to improve the working conditions at this newspaper.

"Management will continue to lie about, and misrepresent what's going on at and away from the table, and attempt to frustrate the newsroom employees, but no one is persuaded by distortions from a recidivist labor outlaw. The employees will soldier on." added Gottlieb.

The General Counsel's office announced it will issue a complaint in connection with this violation soon. The General Counsel earlier announced that it will prosecute the News-Press for bad faith surface bargaining, for discontinuing its annual employee evaluations policy, and for failing to provide requested information required for bargaining. The General Counsel is still deliberating upon and investigating several other unfair labor practice charges filed by the Union against the News-Press, including hiring temporary employees to undermine the bargaining unit, refusal to bargain over mandatory subjects of bargaining, and interfering with the NLRB's investigative process. Still pending before the NLRB in Washington are some 15 unfair labor practices found by an Administrative Law Judge in December, 2007 to have been committed by the N-P, including eight unlawful discharges, surveillance, interrogation, and threats of discipline. The total of illegally fired unit empl!
oyees has now increased to 9, not including a supervisor who was also found to have been illegally fired by the paper.

The GCC/IBT won a secret ballot election in September, 2006, winning the right to bargain collectively with the News-Press over terms and conditions of employment for news department employees. The News-Press stalled the onset of bargaining for over a year, and then bargained in bad faith - that is, with no genuine intent to reach an agreement with the Union. In two separate hearings conducted by two Administrative Law Judges since the election, News-Press key witnesses Scott Steepleton (Associate Editor) and Travis Armstrong (Editorial Page Editor) were found not to be credible witnesses.

The NLRB has not yet set a hearing date for prosecuting the News-Press on any of the outstanding charges slated for prosecution.

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Anonymous Peter Pan said...

Just like Obama screaming racism everytime someone crosses him, the union screams Labor Code violations every time management exercises common sense and free speech.

10/28/2008 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Someone has to said...

Peter Pan, smell the coffee! Let's review the bidding. The News-Press fires a member of the union bargaining committee, after having been found to have illegally fired eight other union supporters. Scott Steepleton, liar extraordinaire -- having been found to be so by two different NLRB judges -- pulled the trigger without factual support for his action. Doesn't that protest by the union, based just on those facts, go beyond mere "screaming" (which Obama doesn't do, either, BTW)?

This Peter P nonsense is further exposed because regardless of the Union's decibel level, it must provide facts and evidence to satisfy an NLRB investigation before the federal labor law agency will decide to prosecute a violator. So, the General Counsel conducted that investigation, and this prosecution announcement is the result after it looked into the facts, including whatever the News-Press provided. That is far different from the vacuous "screaming" done by the News-Press itself, which does file charges without factual or legal support, and thus far has nothing to show for it but a bunch of dismissals and petulant whining about agency "bias".

At this point, given the News-Press' track record, chances are it is breaking the law each time it punishes a newsroom staffer. But Peter, is illegally firing someone "free speech" to you?

10/29/2008 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Peter Pan said...

Put some facts on the table:

1. Did this fired worker have a contract or was he working under an "at will" agreement?

2. How was his firing proven to be retaliatory for his union activities?

3. What other reasons led to his termination?

4. How do you define "firing", based upon what exact entitlements?

5. What was "illegal" about the "firing" after providing facts explaining the prior questions?

6. What part of this workers express contract terms guaranteed he had total freedom of speech rights superior to management's control of their private enterprise publication?

10/30/2008 10:01 AM  
Anonymous At will not uber alles said...

Peter, go ahead and continue your clueless ways. All employees in this state and in this country, whether or not "at will", have the right to be free from anti-union discrimination and retaliation (not to mention age, race, gender and disability discrimination). I know how management types love to tout "at will" as if it means employers can just fire someone for any reason they please, but some reasons have been outlawed, the above are among them. You will have to await the trial to find out what lies and pretexts the News-Press put forward, and why it is proper to find an illegal anti-union motive to be the true one in this case. "Firing" means what it says: an involuntary forced departure from employment initiated by the employer. Peter, you are hung up on the idea that management has dictatorial control over employees and that is simply not the case. Is it OK with you if management fires someone for sexist or racist reasons? Forcing an employer to reinstate an employee it discriminated against might be hard to accept if you believe in absolute management dictatorship, but the law prohibits anti-union firings -- yes, even for newspapers -- every bit as much as it does racially discriminatory firings.

We have lots of statutes that govern the workplace; this isn't the 1920s anymore, when child labor, endless work days, and Pinkerton thugs beating up on union organizers was par for the course. Our community and society are better for having these laws, and most developed societies have far stronger pro-union and pro-employee laws than those that exist here.

10/31/2008 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Peter Pan said...

I need you to be specific. Why did this guy get fired? You make all these global complaints when all I want are the facts why he was terminated.

Employees are hired "at will" unless they have signed a contract specifying some other conditions. If I follow your logic, no one can be fired because any firing or termination of an at will employment de facto is a Labor Relations violation.

You leave me confused with your line of argument. Perhaps you can tell me what specific acts the employee committed that give rise to your claim his was a prejudicial termination? Thank you.

Otherwise I remain in the dark and have to fall back on the presumption he was an at will employee who was terminated appropriately. You give me no other choice.

10/31/2008 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Ball of confusion said...

Peter, I'm not here to fill your needs. I am not going to reveal the pretextual reasons that the News-Press stated it fired him for. But you don't follow my logic, because the law recognizes that most employers are smart enough not to give a blatantly illegal reason for firing an employee. SBNP management may be venal and dishonest, but they are not totally stupid. The law provides that the appropriate government agency, and/or sometimes the offended employee him/herself, gets to challenge that stated reason as false and pretextual, and to claim that the real reason is unlawful anti-union discrimination, or a violation of other established law. Sorry you're confused, but perhaps your source of confusion is your overly broad concept of "at will" employment. Just because someone is "at will" and is given a superficially non-discriminatory reason for termination doesn't end the story. That reason can be tested in light of reality. If the reality is that the employer had a bad (that is, illegal) reason -- and most employers don't fire someone for no reason at all -- then that employer action can be challenged in the appropriate forum.

10/31/2008 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Peter Pan said...

Just as expected. No facts to support your charge of NP illegal acts. Really, you need to reign these accusations in. Employee was at will and employe was terminated. All legal. Please watch how you are describing things next time. Thank you.

11/01/2008 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Give 'im the hook said...

Peter, what flavor Kool-aid are you drinking? The General Counsel of the NLRB doesn't prosecute employers for the fun of it, Cappello cacophony notwithstanding. The facts will emerge in due time. Fortunately, you are not the person who must be convinced, and based on your minute and deficient understanding of employment law (despite attempts above to explain it which you shine on), that's a very good thing.

11/02/2008 3:46 AM  

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