A charge of unfair labor practices was filed today with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today in response to alleged threats made by Santa Barbara News-Press lawyer and de facto spokesperson Barry Cappello to remaining News-Press employees. The filing claims that Cappello’s statements to other newspapers about the legality of protests against the paper — in particular the “banner incident” of Friday, February 3, which ultimately resulted in the termination of six News-Press employees — are unlawful and aim to dissuade future protests. Although former employees and union supporters have stated that the protest banner was not illegal, Cappello has stated in interviews — including one published in this week’s Independent — that the News-Press staffers overstepped the boundaries of legality by encouraging people to cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and, thus, causing financial damage to their employer. (Click here to open a PDF file of the charge.)
Whether the banner protest constituted an illegal activity, however, remains a matter of debate until NLRB makes a ruling on the matter.
Officially, this charge was filed by the Graphic Communications Conference, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
As of this afternoon, reports indicate that News-Press employees protesting their former employer have employed a marching band in their effort to disrupt the work activities of those still allowed inside the building.