Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Union, News-Press begin negotiating


The Santa Barbara News-Press and the Graphic Communications Conference union, a division of the Teamsters, began contract negotiations yesterday for the paper’s newsroom employees, who voted 33-6 in favor of joining the union more than a year ago.
Nick Caruso, a union representative who will be bargaining on behalf of the newsroom, said yesterday that the first discussion between the two sides dealt mostly with preliminary matters.

“I don’t expect for the first [couple of] days much in the way of exchanging proposals,” Caruso said.
Caruso said he couldn’t say what the issues or priorities for the newsroom staff are at this stage, but many former and current employees have said they were in favor of forming a union based on what they called ethical breaches by the paper’s owner and co publisher Wendy McCaw.
Since July 6, 2006, nearly 50 employees have either been fired or resigned their posts at the paper, most of whom have cited differences with McCaw and other members of the paper’s management.
McCaw, through her attorney’s, challenged the legitimacy of the union vote last year, but an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the union. The newspaper then appealed the judge’s decision, but that appeal was denied by the NLRB as well.
The bargaining committee for the union consists of Lyn Ward, Dennis Moran, Dawn Hobbs and Melinda Burns. Tom Schultz and Karna Hughes are alternates. Hobbs, Burns and Schultz are acting as technical advisors, as they are no longer employed at the paper. However, these three, along with five other former News-Press employees, are at the center of an effort by the NLRB to have them reinstated at the paper.
The NLRB chose to prosecute the News-Press for allegedly illegally firing the eight employees, but that decision is pending.
Caruso said the bargaining team for the newspaper is Associate Editor Scott Steepleton and an attorney named Michael Zinser.
Caruso said the negotiations will continue through today, but no future dates have yet been set.

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