Thursday, February 21, 2008

Newspaper hit with another labor charge


Newsroom union representatives leveled another unfair labor practice charge against the Santa Barbara News-Press yesterday, contending the newspaper stopped giving out annual raises in 2006 to punish newsroom employees for unionizing.
Teamsters attorney Ira Gottlieb said documents provided by the News-Press at the request of the union showed many of the newsroom employees received annual raises every year from 2000 to 2005.

“It was only in 2006 in which no one at all in the newsroom received a raise,” he said. “We asked the News-Press at the bargaining table to explain why this was so, why we should believe this was not a change in established practice intended to retaliate for the advent of the union, and received no explanation at all.”
Barry Cappello, an attorney who represents the newspaper, said the charge is an attempt by the union to use the government to leverage the bargaining process.
“We are in the midst of bargaining with the union and wages is an issue that is on the table,” he said. “This basically takes it off the table. … This is stuff that’s being negotiated, so how could it be an unfair practice?”
The union is seeking an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board compelling the newspaper to consider and grant bonuses to all newsroom employees who worked in 2006, describing the decision to withhold those raises as punitive and unprecedented.
“We want to make sure the board is aware that the company is committing new unfair labor practices,” Gottlieb said.
But Cappello speculated that the decision to file yesterday’s charge was based on other motives.
“We think it’s frivolous,” he said, “and I think it was filed because the union got wind that we are filing our own unfair labor practice charge against them.”
He said he planned to file a charge against the union yesterday. Representatives from his office said the paperwork wouldn’t be filed until yesterday evening and, as a result, they could not provide a copy.
The union’s latest allegation of labor law violations comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision that found heavily in favor of the union concerning 15 other charges filed against the newspaper largely involving the firings of eight reporters.
The union has since sought an injunction to allow those employees to return to work during an appeal or further litigation. Newspaper representatives indicated they plan to appeal the judge’s recommendations to the full labor board. The decision on that injunction request is still pending, Gottlieb said.
The union also filed an unfair labor practice charge in November, alleging the newspaper is using “temporary” employees to undermine the recently certified union.
Attorneys for the NLRB will investigate the current charge and determine whether to move forward with prosecution. If the union and the newspaper cannot reach an accord, the issue may have to be heard in court or before a federal labor judge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barry Cappello is drinking the Kool-Aid. He says that wages are part of negotiations, but he neglects to mention that the SBNP's unprecedented decision to deny its union-supporting newsroom employees 2006 annual raises was made at a time when the News-Press was refusing to bargain with the Union. It should have adhered to its practice, and its punitive refusal to do so -- almost a year before it first agreed to negotiate -- is a violation of federal labor law. And as usual, Cappello speculates without proof that the Union would care about the possibility of the SBNP's filing of its spurious charge, when the truth is that the union warned the SBNP it was going to file, and the SBNP didn't bother with that courtesy. So, who was anticipating whom?