Capps, Miller Tell NLRB to Make Decision on News-Press

Slow-Moving Labor Board Gets Flak from Congress

In a letter to National Labor Relations Board Chairman Robert J. Battista, Rep. Lois Capps joined Rep. George Miller (D-CA) in urging the NLRB to pick up the pace in resolving the pending cases before it, including the situation involving the newsroom employees of the Santa Barbara News-Press. The urging comes in light of a recent report by the NLRB Inspector General, which shows a significant delay in the Board issuing decisions and in providing remedies under the National Labor Relations Act.

The letter then went on to specifically mention the labor battle currently being fought at the News-Press. Newsroom employees at the paper voted 33-6 to join the Teamsters Union on Sept. 27 of last year. The newspaper filed objections to the election, which an NLRB administrative law judge overruled in March. The News-Press has appealed the decision, and the two sides are waiting for the NLRB to act on the matter. “The NLRB should move in a timely manner to resolve the News-Press case and all other certification cases,” the joint letter stated. “Delay in such cases undermines the Act, with a disparate impact on employees particularly in cases where it is found that the election complied with the law and the employees chose union representation.”

In the letter, the two “do not take a position on the merits of the News-Press case or similar election certification cases before the board,” but Capps has publicly spoken about the newspaper’s plight before. In March, during a rally in De La Guerra Plaza, Capps told the crowd gathered there she was “very concerned about what has been happening to our community’s paper. We are losing a valuable resource for our community and that deeply saddens me.” In her speech, Capps spoke of the reporters’ right to organize, and how important workers’ rights - such as decent pay, working conditions and fair employment practices - are carried out through the collective bargaining process.

After six News-Press employees left on July 6 of last year, alleging that owner Wendy McCaw was meddling in the news, the paper’s remaining employees approached the Graphics Communications Conference about forming a union to improve working conditions.

The events which lead to the original walkout can be found here and here.

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