Judge Rules Against News-Press Again

Orders Back Pay for Illegally Fired Workers

Appeal Expected: A federal labor judge has found that the Santa Barbara News-Press engaged in massive violations of the law.

National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson found, among other things, that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw refused to bargain in good faith during contract negotiations and illegally fired contract negotiator-sports writer Dennis Moran and laid-off columnist Richard (“Pip! Pip!”) Mineards. The judge ordered that they be offered their jobs back and get back pay.

Mineards is now a columnist for the weekly Montecito Journal.

No comment has been received from News-Press attorney A. Barry Cappello, but it is expected that the paper will appeal on all counts, as it has a previous NLRB judge’s ruling that a group of fired reporters be rehired. That issue is still on appeal.

This time around, Judge Anderson, in a 159-page decision following a 21-day hearing last year, found that “Employees were discharged because of their union activities.

“This is serious stuff and well supports the finding that the [News-Press] was fundamentally opposed to union representation of its employees had no intention to enter into a collective-bargaining agreement with the union, save one which would geld it, leaving the unit employees essentially unrepresented by contractual waiver.”

After the News-Press meltdown of July 2006, when top editors resigned, newsroom employees voted two months later to affiliate with the Teamsters. McCaw resisted, and no contract has been signed, with Judge Anderson blaming the paper for refusing to bargain in good faith.

Along with ordering the paper to bargain in good faith, Anderson found that the paper engaged in “an ongoing broad and pernicious pattern of unfair labor practices,” illegally assigned work in order to undermine the union, interfered with the union through a threatening memo issued by McCaw, and discontinued annual raises.

He ordered that employees be compensated for the withheld raises and “made whole” for economic losses they suffered by the use of temporary workers hired to undermine the union.

The judge also ordered that an appendix to his decision, detailing his order to the management, be posted in the newsroom for 60 days.

Nick Caruso, chief negotiator for the Teamsters, said: “We are pleased and gratified that Judge Anderson’s thorough and painstaking consideration of all the evidence has vindicated the union’s bargaining position and the employees’ steadfast persistence that they have rights in the workplace that must be respected. We hope that this decision, powerfully and carefully rendered as it is, will persuade the News-Press to mend its ways.”

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