Rallying for the right to organize the <em>Santa Barbara News-Press</em> newsroom: Tom Schultz, Dawn Hobbs, Teamsters organizer George Perez, Barney McManigal, Rob Kuznia, Anna Davison, Melinda Burns, John Zant, and Melissa Evans.

Rallying for the right to organize the Santa Barbara News-Press newsroom: Tom Schultz, Dawn Hobbs, Teamsters organizer George Perez, Barney McManigal, Rob Kuznia, Anna Davison, Melinda Burns, John Zant, and Melissa Evans.

Wendy’s Win

Three Arch-Conservative D.C. Justices Rule for McCaw

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
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The times may be changing, but they’re not changing fast enough to curb some of the worst excesses at the Santa Barbara News-Press. Even as the country seeks to level the playing field for 99 percent of Americans, a federal appeals court today sided with Wendy McCaw, the multimillionaire owner and co-publisher of the News-Press, setting bad precedent and legitimizing – at least on paper – her fanatical campaign against the union in her newsroom.

Ignoring the facts on the ground, a panel of three arch-conservative judges in the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals invoked the First Amendment to rule that McCaw had every right to fire eight of us reporters in 2006 and 2007, on the heels of our vote to join the Teamsters, and that she could spy on and harass union supporters and cut their pay with impunity. In the judges’ distorted view, we newsroom employees formed a union and launched a boycott of the paper in order to control the news content of the paper, in violation of McCaw’s right to publish whatever she pleased.

Melinda Burns
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Melinda Burns

Today’s bizarre and unfair ruling gives McCaw license to retaliate against her workers in ways that would ordinarily violate federal labor law. It spells bad news for media workers everywhere: It overturns a 2011 decision by the National Labor Relations Board ordering our immediate reinstatement and back pay, based on “serious and widespread” labor law violations. In 2007, an administrative law judge found the Santa Barbara News-Press to be guilty of “widespread, general disregard for the fundamental rights of the employees.”

No doubt today’s appeals court ruling will make publishers happy, but it will get little traction in Santa Barbara, where most people are familiar with the unsavory facts of the “News-Press Mess.” More than 17,000 readers have quit the paper since we were fired, and the boycott is ongoing. My former colleagues in the newsroom are still waiting for McCaw to start bargaining in good faith for a fair employment contract. We’ve filed two more cases against the News-Press; we’ve lost count of McCaw’s violations of labor law, there are so many.

The appeals court judges, no friends of working people, sided with McCaw’s outlandish claims that the labor board “fashioned itself a super-editor and second-guessed SBNP’s editorial decisions.” Yet anyone who’s ever read a newspaper knows that a phalanx of editors stands between reporters and the printed word. We can’t order the pressmen to do our bidding or control the content of the paper in any fashion. The very idea would be funny, except it’s not funny coming from some of the highest judges in the land. What really got them riled up was our public protest, in the form of our boycott campaign.

It’s been illegal in America since the 1930s for an employer – including, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, a newspaper employer – to retaliate against workers who form a union. Also, it’s illegal to retaliate if these same workers organize a boycott to put pressure on a recalcitrant boss to negotiate a contract. Yet – no surprise here – employers regularly flout the law. A 2009 Cornell University study for the Economic Policy Institute shows that fully one-third of U.S. employers fire union activists during union organizing campaigns. At the News-Press, one out of every four of us union supporters lost our jobs. Our newsroom voted 33-6 to join the Teamsters, and in all, nine of us have been fired, counting Dennis Moran, a member of our negotiating team who was fired in 2008 and is not involved in today’s ruling.

Two of us, John Zant and I, were senior writers who had been at the Santa Barbara News-Press for 38 and 21 years, respectively. All eight of us, including Anna Davison, Melissa Evans, Dawn Hobbs, Rob Kuznia, Barney McManigal, and Tom Schultz, helped the paper win many honors, including annual awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association for general excellence. We were damn good at what we did. McCaw’s good at bullying. She hired nine law firms to make sure we never set foot in her building again.

It’s clear to us now that her strategy all along has been to kick the case up to the appeals courts, where she could expect a favorable decision from pro-business, activist judges, holdovers from more arrogant, less humane administrations. Here’s some background on the three who ruled in our case today:

Chief Judge David Sentelle, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, joined in a 1990 ruling voiding the felony convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter in the Iran-Contra scandal. During the tenure of President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, Sentelle picked Kenneth Starr as Special Prosecutor to press for the President’s impeachment.

Judge Stephen Williams, another Reagan appointee, cast the sole vote against affirming the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the one that requires states with a history of suppressing minority votes to get judicial approval before changing voting procedures.

And in 2008, Judge Karen Henderson joined in a court ruling that tossed out the lawsuit of four Muslim former prisoners who alleged they had been tortured at Guantánamo. The court said they were “non-persons.”

These three judges bent over backwards to favor McCaw. But what, exactly, has McCaw won? Has she won back her credibility, her reputation, or her readers?

I remember how excited we were back in 2000 when McCaw bought the Santa Barbara News-Press from the New York Times. The day she took over, she threw a party on the third floor, and then, abruptly, the excitement ended for good. When we filed back into the newsroom that afternoon, we learned that McCaw had fired Publisher Allan Parsons, a truly gentle man; and suddenly everyone was crying. Several more publishers came and went, until, in the spring of 2006, McCaw announced that she would be co-publisher with her fiancé, Arthur Von Wiesenberger.

Spring had barely turned to summer that year when Editor Jerry Roberts and four other editors resigned, citing what they said was McCaw’s unethical interference in newsgathering and reporting. A dozen reporters quit, too, including one who had been covering a neighborhood dispute over the development plans of Rob Lowe, an actor friend of McCaw’s who wanted to build a mansion on a vacant lot in Montecito. Following standard newsroom practice, the reporter reported the address of the lot. Lowe’s assistant called the paper to complain, saying Lowe was going to cancel his subscription. McCaw fired off harsh letters of reprimand to the reporter and three editors, who all eventually resigned.

Those of us who chose to stay in the newsroom knew we needed a written contract to protect our job security and integrity as journalists from McCaw’s arbitrary attacks. We quickly signed cards to join the Teamsters, but McCaw refused to recognize the union. So, we held a union vote and won overwhelmingly. I was fired a month later, and seven others were fired not long after that. We were publicly urging subscribers to boycott the News-Press, a step we hoped would bring McCaw to the bargaining table for a fair employment contract.

Instead, that was the end of our daily newspaper careers in this town – the best job I ever had – and the beginning of McCaw’s reputation as one of the most blatantly anti-union employers in the state, if not the country. More than 70 journalists have left the News-Press staff since 2006, including some who took our place, and others who took theirs.

In a second case the union has filed, the National Labor Relations Board this year found McCaw guilty of bad-faith bargaining from Day One of negotiations and ordered her to pay all of the Teamsters’ negotiating costs, retroactive to 2007. Other violations of labor law in that case include firing Moran, discontinuing annual raises, hiring temporary employees to undermine the union, and ordering newsroom employees not to cooperate with federal investigators. McCaw has appealed this case to the D.C. court. In the meantime, the labor board is planning to prosecute a third case, alleging a number of repeat violations and some new ones.

Back in the 1990s, I covered stories about farmworkers in this county who worked for less than minimum wage for months on end. I wrote about strawberry pickers who staged walkouts over pay cuts and were fired on the spot. I was astonished by the glacial pace of justice in the courts for these workers and shocked that many of them never got their back pay. I never thought it could happen to me. Now, I’ve learned a bitter lesson in just how weak labor law is in America and how weakly it is enforced. I’ve witnessed how a wealthy boss can game the system, breaking the law on one hand and using the courts to delay and block justice on the other, smearing us on the pages of her paper, and subpoenaing our private e-mails, all of this serving to spread paranoia in our ranks.

Still, I have no regrets. Even as the appeals court rubs salt in our wounds, the community applies a healing balm. During the past six years, we have experienced what true solidarity is and what it can accomplish. I’m immensely grateful to my fellow Santa Barbarans and to the many, many other South Coast residents who have rallied to our cause, collecting donations for us, organizing rallies and forums to advance our cause, coming to our picket lines and candlelight vigils, speaking out publicly in our defense, and – this is the crucial thing – abandoning the paper by the thousands and never going back. Judges may come and go, but the community will endure.

I am thankful, too, for the extraordinary help of the Teamsters, who have spent more than half a million dollars in our defense, money they will never recoup in newsroom dues. They simply could not stand by in the face of injustice. Their members, complete strangers to us, took up collections around the country to help us survive. Without the union’s leadership and backing, we never could have sustained such a long and costly campaign for fairness at the News-Press. It continues to this day.

This fight is not over. It’s a different country now. Better men and women will someday replace the federal judges who protect the interests of the wealthy one percent of Americans. Meanwhile, the newsroom employees at my old paper deserve a fair contract, and the boycott continues in their support. Please don’t read, buy, or advertise in the Santa Barbara News-Press. Take a stand against McCaw’s war on workers. Let her know that might does not make right.

Pictured in the photo at the top of the story are, from left: Tom Schultz, Dawn Hobbs, Teamsters organizer George Perez, Barney McManigal, Rob Kuznia, Anna Davison, Melinda Burns, John Zant, and Melinda Evans.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

This is a sad and tragic case. We see how Mrs. McCaw truly represents her 1% brethren and manipulates the system to preserve her robber baron ueber-capitalistic ethos. Readers, if you still buy or advertise in the once-great News-Suppress, please consider stopping.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 7:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't buy the NP, and I boycott advertisers. McCaw has done immeasurable damage to the community by supporting a corrupt status quo, and it's unfortunate that local businesses condone and support this with advertising. Santa Barbara would be a much stronger, healthier community if we had a news provider that published facts rather than political propaganda by corrupt elected officials aiming to fool all of the people all of the time.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 7:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ms McCaw: I'm guessing you'd turn down a marraige proposal from me but can I ask you just ONE favor?...can you please tell me what it is you've wanted to accomplish by buying this newspaper?

I watched from Ground Zero as the morale sunk into the ground from the day you took over. I saw the women who were crying the day you fired Allan Parsons. (Who truly epitomized the word "gentleman") I remember that day the eerie silence in the newsroom and the emotional scene as I went into Parsons' office to wish him well.

I remember the stunned look of another former city desk editor the day you fired him. I saw him walk out of the building and just as the door behind him closed I realized that the only reason he could be carrying the big picture he had in his office is because he--like so many others, was fired. I rushed out and said goodbye to him, watching yet another person's life disrupted as he had to go home to his wife and young son "Luke Skywalker".

There were the various purges every few months; a few people here, and a few more there. Then I saw the "divide-and-conquer mentality take place as people who used to be friends turned on each other--much like what happens in prison camps when people are scared and absolute obedience to the despot is required--but is no guarantee of survival. I also saw the denial among some of the people who acted surprised when they too got the ax. (or is it "axe"--a la "blond" vs. "blonde"?)

The classic move however was when you fired the "plant lady"--a woman who came around and maintained the plants in the place. After all, you don't want to go broke keeping people employed and maintaining a nice ambience.

So here we had a paper that functioned, where people enjoyed their work environment, and felt secure in their jobs. Having said all this, perhaps (and I truly don't know the answer to this) Melinda is wrong and you are right: Perhaps LEGALLY you have the right to do as you have done, just as any of us LEGALLY have the right to drive past you if we see you laying on the road dying from injuries you've just suffered in a car accident, but of course, I'd stop and get you to the hospital because that would be the right thing to do. Is what you've done, the right thing to do?

B.C.: News-Press alumni class of '04.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I did a quick scan of the Appeals Court ruling ... It really surprises me that the first amendment rights of the publisher was the paramount ("only") issue on the court's mind. The court did not seem to place any weight on the considerable issues related to mistreatment of workers and violations of labor rights.

The judges could have ruled there was a violation of first amendment rights *and* labor rights - but they didn't. They made it an "either or" ruling.

Activist judges indeed.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Idea: when I see a News-Suppress on the ground, I'll pick it up and begin studying not the slanted news (Steepleton, what a toady!) but the primary advertisers. Boycott those who advertise in the N-P!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Idea: even if you don't subscribe to the NP, call and tell them to stop littering your driveway with that "Extra" advertising edition.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 8:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Quite the rapid deployment tome here!

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2012 at 10:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you, Melinda, and all the other true journalists who stood up for themselves and for all of us who read their work. You're all true heroes. I'm no longer living in SB, but I became a NP boycotter in 2006 before moving away. In addition to those who live in SB County never buying another edition of the paper, however, here's a another suggestion: call the advertisers who still do business with McCaw and tell them that as long as they continue supporting her, you can't and won't buy anything from them. And then create an alternative list of retailers who don't advertise in the NP. And don't forget to thank and support the Independent which provides a platform for truth and dissent in Santa Barbara.

Pagurus (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 4:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What I do not understand is why anyone would spend money on this paper. Wendy is liberal on some issues and conservative on others; in all cases she has been a scourge on this community.
While I found the article biased and worthy only of inclusion on the Opinion Page, Ms. McCaw transcends her own blend of political views to always end up on the jackass side of things. Whether it's her nutty view on animal rights or the crappy way she treats her employees, she is predictably self centered.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 6:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Great job, Melinda! Few people can describe complicated issues in simple terms, but you are absolutely the best! Thank you, and keep up the good work.

neighbor (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Terrible ruling. "Arch-conservative" judges. Says it all. Those of you who still read or buy this rag---please stop and cancel. Haven't bothered even to read a free left-behind copy of the SBNP in years. Just like I never ever watch Fox News. (Unless it's on the Comedy Channel).

Draxor (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 12:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Agreed Draxor, but I do not watch FOX or CSNBC for the same reasons...although I still begrudgingly read the NYT every day.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2012 at 7:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I guess the marriage proposal is out of the question. How about if we go out for a steak dinner?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2012 at 4:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

We had an award winning local daily before McCaw.
Now we have a mediocre late breaking rehash of old wire stories and front page horsie narratives.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2012 at 4:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Point of logic here:

Query: if you haven't read the NP since whenever, how do you know if it is biassed?

Answer: you don't. You are of the OPINION that it is biassed. Or you are depending on the opinions of others.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2012 at 7:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

JohnLocke: On the face of things, you're probably right. But Ms. McCaw has never shown an interest in allowing the paper's reporters to practice honest investigative journalism leading to conclusions she wouldn't support. Remember the Channel Islands "controversy" McCaw created about eliminating feral pigs? Remember the rabid lap dog, Travis Armstrong, she hired to perform hatchet work on the editorial pages? Her behavior has been so consistently toxic that there is no earthly reason to believe that the NP could ever recover while she owns it. That is also a logical conclusion...

Pagurus (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2012 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

McCaw is FAR from blameless, but having observed the self-righteous behavior of Ms. Burns and her ilk, it is quite clear that they believe that they, and not the paper's owner, have the right to control content. I frankly consider this to be a bigger issue than alleged labor law violation, esp in view of the fact that the journalists were actively and publicly encouraging subscribers to drop their subscriptions (illegal labor practice in itself). And as the Court stated, alleging labor law violations does not excuse the journalists (in this case, aka propagandists and polemicists) their own missteps; this bunch was obviously depending on a far-left-leaning NLRB to carry their water. Ironically, it was Burns' statements that gave the Court their best ammunition on this. And now she cries foul. Typical...

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2012 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JL, the right of workers to organize and unionize is hardly "far-left-leaning", and we have a NLRB to make sure that workers -- like Burns and these journalists (not "ilk") -- can do so without retribution. I guess these terms really are relative: when you call an organ of the government "far-left" clearly you are "far-right". I know Ms Burns, and had read her honored worked for the old good N-P for years. To smear her as a "propagandist and polemicist" is easy to do under your pseudonym: offer specifics, JL, otherwise it's just blather and sour grapes.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2012 at 10:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh how fabulous that we have Regan era judges ruling on these issues. Ramsses the First and Tutankhamun? Geeze, these judges should have term limits.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2012 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't question the right of workers to organize and unionize, but to direct their owners business? uh-uh. "Left-leaning"? Well, let's just consider the traditional alignment of Big Labor in the political spectrum - enough said.

The NLRB has been and is traditionally stacked with labor sympathizers and their history of decision-making shows just that, unless of course you believe that only those cases in which labor is already deemed innocent by some higher power make it to NLRB hearings. To criticize a politicized goverment agency hardly makes me far-anything, more like a centrist seeker of truth and balance.

Burns and her ilk are indeed polemicists as clearly indicated by history of less than factual accusations and innuendo regarding the McCae NP, as regularly reported in that bastion of centrist thinking, The SB Independent. I am not an extremist of any stripe unless you define me so because I believe that unions, once founded for worthy cause, now have far too much power.

Journalists, as a breed, are extremely self-righteous even while proclaiming their independence of view. I have discussed the issue of reporting vs editorializing with journalists from the NY Times, the LA Times, and the Washington Post. Not a scientific sample, but the ones I spoke to were unanilously of the view that they are on a mission from God to educate, not just inform. When pressed they all admit that to educate in their view means to interpret the facts for their readers, i.e. editorialize. Take a hard look at the journalist "revolt" at the LA Times a few years back - it was all about content control.

I'll do my own editorializing, reporters, keep yours on the OpEd page. There are no more important freedoms than those of speech and press; the last thing we need is a bunch of self-important, self-righteous, self-proclaimed arbiters of truth warping the facts. Of course they're not all like that, but those who are should find other work.

Just consider the difference between the following:

"gun-toting killer" (fact)

"crazy gun-toting killer" (opinion, then fact)

See the diff?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2012 at 4:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JohnLocke you couldn't have said it better.

person (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 8:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

ha, a centrist seeker of truth, JL you are a comedian par excellence! Readers, see episode 82 of this series with Ira Gottlieb to get a completely and less than extreme Right view than you have here with JL [ ].

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

spoken like a true Far Leftie.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@JohnLocke: " I have discussed the issue of reporting vs editorializing with journalists from the NY Times, the LA Times, and the Washington Post. Not a scientific sample, but the ones I spoke to were unanilously of the view that they are on a mission from God to educate, not just inform."

So, in other words, you've discussed these issues with professionals who are educated, and actually working, in the industry, and still think you know better than they do. Yep - you definitely belong reading the News-Press.

One can only imagine the grief you give your proctologist.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 2:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I miss Willy Hearst.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2012 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Eatit - you completely missed the point, as is often the case. Yes, they are wrong. Opinions on the OpEd pages, facts on the news pages. Simple concept for most people.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2012 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I understand completely. If JohnLocke doesn't like the facts, then they're 'opinions'. If he likes the opinions, then they're 'facts'. A concept for simple people...

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2012 at 9:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, Eatsie, facts are facts, rooted in objective reality independent of the observer. Doesn't matter whether one likes them or not. Opinions are interpretations of facts, rooted in the mind of the observer. See the diff? Give me an example of a 'fact that I don't like and is therefore an opionion'.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 8:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@JohnLocke: "Give me an example of a 'fact that I don't like and is therefore an opionion'."

It is your OPINION that journalists should report based on YOUR standards. It's is a FACT, that they have a set of journalistic standards by which their field is defined.

It is a FACT that journalists working and educated in the field know more about their role in a representative democracy. It is your OPINION that you know more than they do.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Facts are stubborn things.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You might want to check the definition of journalist, which includes editors, advocacy journalists, and reporters. Reporters are supposed to report facts, not opinions. Advocacy journalists "intentionally adopt a non-objective viewpoint". Editors manage the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work.

It's not my standards, dude, that mandate factual reporting. There is as you say a set of standards (do your research and read them) that clearly separate reporting of fact from advocating opinion. Check it out, then retract your last post.

A journalist can certainly write an opinion piece (i.e. take an advocacy position), but is not to represent it as a factual report - such articles belong in the OpEd section or are to be clearly labelled as opinion pieces. And a journalist can certainly write a news story (i.e. be a reporter) without including opinion - that belongs on the news pages. It's a simple distinction. And not just my opinion, but the very journalistic standards to which you refer. And to which many NP reporters failed to adhere (some still do).

Once again:

gun-toting killer: fact

crazy gun-toting killer: opinion, then fact.

See the diff?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 12:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What I cannot understand is how this case ended up in the District Court of Appeals? That's a little far afield and it would seem that it should have been tried in the 9th District.

What gives?

maven12 (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 4:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

maven, All NLRB appeals may be determined in either the DC Circuit or here the unfair labor practices occurred, which in this case would be the Ninth. The N-P was able to do some "forum-shopping", and chose the DC Circuit, known for its anti-NLRB, nti-union hostility and its 2-1 ratio of R's to D's.

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 9:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When you can choose the ideological makeup of the court that is going to hear your case, something is really rotten in Denmark.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 9:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The point of the NLRB cases is not about the content of the paper, but about a court looking for a reason to help out an outlaw employer, even when its own lawyers were not up to the task of defending it. The unfair labor practicescommitted by Wendy & Company are standard labor law violations; you just don't ordinarily see so many committed by one employer in a relatively small workplace. And one of the NLRB members who agreed that the N-P had committed the multiple violations was a Republican management lawyer appointee.

The DC Circuit reached beyond the comprehensive evidentiary record and the confines of precedent from SCOTUS and its own annals to help out a miscreant employer, in unprecedented fashion. The only thing missing from McCaw's First Amendment defense was evidence: the NLRB found, relying on evidence, that the reasons for which the eight reporters were discharged were either pretexts (i.e., lies to cover up anti-union motivation) or retaliation NOT for alleged attacks on managerial prerogative, but for protected activity. McCaw's half dozen lawyers mustered not a shred of evidence to contradict that conclusion, and Steepleton admitted that all of the reasons for firing the eight were contained in the letters he wrote and gave to them. None of those letters said word one about McCaw's purported concern about threats to her editorial prerogatives. So the First Amendment was a "post hoc" defense cooked up by lawyers who didn't bother to prove it.

People sucking up to Wendy claim the NLRB is biased; all of the judges favoring Wendy thus far have had an "R" next to their names, and as noted above, one Republican NLRB member voted in favor of the employees and union. Republicans are supposed to believe in the force of precedent, but these three pretended the Supreme Court's ruling saying newspapers had to obey labor law, and the DC Circuit's precedent saying employee boycotts are protected, never happened. These judges' hostility to unions, collective bargaining and the NLRB, and willingness to bend over backwards to help employers and discard the deference they're supposed to show to NLRB rulings, have been demonstrated time and again. This decision is a travesty of justice, nothing less.

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
December 25, 2012 at 11:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The NLRB is as biassed as any other appointed body, including appointed judges - tending toward the politics of their appointers. The NP was simply able through legal action to avoid the notoriously leftwing and most frequently overturned Ninth Circus Court in favor of one more to their liking.

I can't imagine why a high level court should show deference to a regulatory body - one could never challenge a regulatory decision otherwise. So, to quote from this years' Democrat phrasebook, your guy lost - get over it.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 26, 2012 at 9:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

JL why not respond to the salient point in JoeHill's post above yours instead of lecturing others about the difference between fact and opinion? Hill wrote, "Steepleton admitted that all of the reasons for firing the eight were contained in the letters he wrote and gave to them. None of those letters said word one about McCaw's purported concern about threats to her editorial prerogatives."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 26, 2012 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's my response, as requested:

"....But the appellate court disregarded that, opining that they were seeking editorial control over the newspaper. “The First Amendment affords a publisher — not a reporter — absolute authority to shape a newspaper’s content,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams in a unanimous opinion Tuesday.
the analysis by the NLRB was “tainted by its mistaken belief that employees had a statutorily protected right to engage in collective action aimed at limiting Ampersand’s editorial control over the News-Press.”"

JoeHill simply didn't like the court's decision, but it was, the court's decision, in a society governed by (hopefully) law. Everyone goes into court believing they are in the right, or they wouldn't be in court. Sometimes your side wins; sometimes not. So to repeat my earlier quote "your guy lost - get over it."

And BTW, I focus on the defs of fact vs opinion because so many don't get the difference and the difference is rather crucial in a society supposedly based on reason and law.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 26, 2012 at 4 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Melinda, get over yourself. It is 2012. And First Amendment and private property rights are still celebrated. Join the festivities.

Read the opposing editorial page columnists in this mornings N-P (12/29/12) and get back to me if this is not a vastly improved publication since the days when the noisy and self-centered few wanted it to be only a vanity rag bent to their own will, at other people's expense.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Look at it this way. Burns took down a lot of people with her. No wonder she has to stay angry because she refuses to admit she betrayed them.

Of course the Teamster union rep who additionally sanctioned what in fact was illegal protest is skulking somewhere off the radar himself, leaving Burns to keep the flames going when this whole nasty mess should be now dying embers.

Move On, Burns. Isn't that the 99% rallying cry?

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

John Locke, yo da Man! Keep it up. Your rebuttals are clear, direct, precise and right on. Thank you for sharing your time and writing skills with us.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 9:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Despite their pious pronouncements, the dead give-away the Duct Tape Seven has not read the new and vastly improved NewsPress is their constant reliance on hoary topic references.

Yeah, the early transitions days did have its share of too many animal defense editorials. But today this is a first class local paper, professionally and competently put together with skill and dedication to the local scene. And it is the freshest face in town when it comes to the variety of syndicated columnists.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks, Oblati. I, too, wonder how long since Burns and her crew have read the NP and therefore how out-of-date their viewpoint is. But then if they ascribe to the "cult of personality" form of opinion, they really don't care about the quality of the NP, they just hate McCaw and whatever she does. Wonder if they hate the millions she gave to the SB Bowl? Love that new sound system and pavilion!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sob, sob. Some liberal reporters that join a union do not get their way, so they are upset. Never mind that it is not their money that is invested in the paper. If you wanted a plant lady, why not pay for it out of your own pocket? Oh wait, that would not be the liberal, democratic way .... to actually have to be responsible for paying a bill and providing a job! Please go cry somewhere else, you are nothing more than sour grapes.

wtf_U_say (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 10:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Progressives and the politics of personal destruction are an unhappy, but apparently a winning alliance.

Proof of the value of reading your local paper is demonstrated by the irrelevance of the Duct Tape Seven's now badly dated view points. In a few more years, few will even know what they are talking about. Let alone, why.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 10:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Leftie 1% Sara Miller McCune promised the Duct Tape Seven she would buy their paper back. Wot happened?

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 10:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

gee, Oblati, your last six posts betray an unconfident glee, and it's full of that sort of 'cult of personality' jargon your hero JL criticizes [Burns and her crew, Duct tape 7].
JL I appreciate your response to my query, and since I scanned the whole 10 pages. Burns's comment did not help her at all. I agree with Joe Hill and EB that it's too bad the entire issue was on the "editorial control" and First Amendment rights of the publisher rather than mistreatment of workers and violations of labor rights. I hope it's appealed further to the Supreme Court but that is unlikely and it's also unlikely the Supreme Court would hear this one.
So it is, and I accept this judgement.
The fact remains that the N-P is a failing enterprise, that management fires many many fine people (their right, yes), and that McCaw should sell it to McCune.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 12:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Duct Tape Seven"?
Who was it that said name calling is is the last refduge of the intellectually bankrupt or somesuch? Oblati? Oh.. Nevermind.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 12:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Go ahead, list all their names and I will see if I can cut and paste them instead of using the short-hand abbreviation used elsewhere in this long-running saga. Meanwhile, dear reader I will continue to use this short-hand designation.

Surely no one is suggesting its simplified use is malevolent? Of course not. Since electrons are generated from fossil fuels, we much consider the eco-purity of using fewer keystrokes.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 12:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

edhat's affectionate remembrance of the iconic movement: "The Duct Tape Protest"

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 12:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JL turned this thread down the bogus, BS road that the appeals court adopted: The erroneous notion that the reporters were fired for trying to control the editorial content of the paper.
In reality they were fired for organizing a union and advocating a boycott. Both those activities are absolutely legal, according to federal law and the NLRB.
No matter what political motives you may impute to the newsroom staff the writers only had the power to write while editors and owners had the power to decide what got published. Individual writers could have been dismissed legitimately if the work product was deemed unsatisfactory but that was not at issue. The right to organize was the issue.

henryjk (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Are you suggesting the fired reporters were coached badly for their own depositions which the court used to evaluate their motives before they reached their final judgement?

According to the ruling, it was the reporters own sworn testimony than damned them.

You also state the workers could only be dismissed for cause (ie: unsatisfactory work product).

Were they not at-will employees? Or did they have a contract that only allowed termination for cause, that also included objective criteria in order to establish "unsatisfactory work product"?

Odd you raised these issues.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 8:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What is odd is that Oblati won't acknowledge that reporters whose experience working at the News-Press for a total of more than 100 years were fired specifically because they took part in union organizational activities.
Of course they could have been let go at any previous time without cause, but they were not. They were fired immediately after taking part in legally protected unionization efforts specific. THAT cause was illegal and that was the basis for the NLRB rulings. Whatever the motives of the union advocates, their behaviors were within the law and their dismissal was a retaliation for exercising their legal rights.
That is the "odd" issue that JL and Oblati apparently cannot grasp.

henryjk (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 9:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not "cannot grasp"; do not agree with your view. The Court spoke, as is the law of the land; if the plaintiffs are not satisfied, they can appeal. I'd love to see a decision by the Supreme Court on this, but I doubt it would shut up either side.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 31, 2012 at 8:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Y'all who disagree with my analysis of the DC Circuit miss the following points:

1. The Court ignored the actual facts and evidence in the record, and actually stated that they need not opine about the individual unfair labor practices found by the NLRB.

2.In the course of #1 above, they abandoned the deference they are supposed to afford administrative agencies like the NLRB, which they acknowledge and then don't follow.That deference is how Republicans (and Democrats) are supposed to treat administrative agency decisions on review, especially when they are, as in this case, clearly supported by substantial evidence in the record.The court instead invented a new legal concept, as in Bush v.Gore, to get to the preordained result it wanted to reach.

3. They ignored their own precedent and that of SCOTUS on the issues of First Amendment protection against NLRA rules for a newspaper publisher, and on the protected nature of a boycott, which they stated was protected activity, some 20 years ago.

4. In doing 1, 2, and 3, they acted as "activist" result-oriented judges, which is not the way Republicans say their appointed judges are supposed to act. This reveals the decision for the corrupt product that it is, if 1, 2 and 3 weren't enough.

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wendy not only won, she was right. Court found no nexus between alleged violation of union organizing rights and owner's termination rights of will employees. This is a very simple distinction to grasp.

Agree with JL, you may not like this decision but that does not make it wrong. Teamsters has plenty of bucks to appeal this to the SCOTUS, if they truly think their collective unionizing rights prevail over a business owner's private property and First Amendment rights.

Under the current anti-business, anti-private property rights administration mentality and with a little more Obama SCOTUS bench-packing they may have a chance. Or not, since justice at its finest is blind.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 10:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes Wendy won, but she wasn't right, see Joe Hill supra.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 10:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why does Joe's opinion remind me of a hill o' beans? Not to worry, if Hill is as right as you claim he is the Teamsters will take this up to the SCOTUS. They have face to save.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 10:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

1. The Court decided that the violation of the publisher's rights superceded the complaints by a self-appointed labor group.
2. The idea that the Court should defer to a regulatory panel is ludicrous and absolutely scary and, if followed, means that regulatory board rulings are absolute. My guess is that this directive came from a left-leaning activist court. Have a look at the SCOTUS membership of 1987 for verification.
3. Please clarify.
4. I'm guessing that you're fine with activist judges as long as they're Democrats?

To quote again from the Democrat playbook fo 2013, "your guy lost, get over it".

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 11:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

1. The publisher's rights under the constitution are to publish and not publish what she wants, which does not absolve her from obeying labor law, or the remedies ordered by the NLRB, which did not include an order requiring her to (not) publish anything in her paper.
2. The law of deference to the NLRB and most similar administrative agencies is enshrined in the law, and was acknowledged by the DC Circuit before it trampled on that principle.
3. SCOTUS, in 1937, rejected a newspaper publisher's First Amendment argument that it should not be required to reinstate an editor it had fired. The DC Circuit followed that precedent in 1940. In 1992, the DC Circuit, including two of the panelists who signed on to the corrupt opinion two weeks ago stated that boycott activity by employees during an ongoing labor dispute is statutorily protected activity. This decision is without precedent, sort of like Bush v. Gore.
4. What I may be fine with in another case --and you can believe it or not, but I recognize the difference between an honest and dishonest path to a conclusion, and this one was grossly dishonest -- has little to do with the profound injustice imposed via this utterly corrupt and anti-analytical extrafactual decision issued in this case.

And by the way, a management attorney and Republican serving on the NLRB voted with the union and the two Democratic appointees in this case. That was because he bothered to review the record and apply the law.The DC Circuit pretty much admitted that it didn't do the former, and as explained above, it didn't do the latter either.

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
January 1, 2013 at 8:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I understand your view, but since legal decisions come down to the judges' interpretation of law and precedent, we'll just have to see if the plaintiffs (or perhaps their Teamster backers) appeal. In this case, I agree with the outcome, primarily for reason #2 as previously stated. IMO, the Court fixed a problem. I don't want any regulatory body immune from court action.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 8:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't know whether the NLRB or the Teamsters will appeal,but the point is that in this case, the three judges went beyond a fair interpretation of "law and precedent", and ignored it and the lengthy factual record. And as I noted above, and as you and the court have failed to accept, the law is that administrative agencies are supposed to develop the evidentiary record and make the primary judgments and findings based on their observation of the evidence and witnesses as they are presented at trial, subject to a "substantial evidence" test on appeal. That is supposed to actually relieve the courts of some burden, and make sure that those closest to the case, and with actual expertise in the labor relations field, make the key decisions.

There is no doubt that what McCaw and her supervisors did violated labor law; the DC Circuit felt it didn't even have to address that set of determinations. What the court did was "fix a problem" that it conjured from its own imagination and conscious misinterpretation of what occurred and how labor law works, because it wasn't based on fact or existing law (which I note you don't address). And you seem to concede that this was an "activist" ruling, since the court "fixed a [perceived] problem" INSTEAD of following the law. And it "fixed" it, after imagining it, by extending the constitution to a place it has never been: protecting violations of statutory law that remains applicable to all private sector employers, including newspapers.

And I guess it's not a "problem" for you that Wendy was granted a limited license to damage the labor relations rights of her employees; how is that to be remedied?

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 10:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

While I strongly support former NP employees in their legal actions against McCaw's violations of their rights, we're fortunate that the NP responded by exposing the violation of the rights of SB residents and visitors by corrupt SBPD practices and by exposing the abuse of office by our district attorney and SB city attorney in their retaliation against individuals who acknowledge local police corruption. These are long-term issues that are very destructive to the SB community and that have been ignored by all other local media, and the NP has succeeded in creating a crack in the dam of SB city hall disinformation and cover-ups of police misconduct.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 1:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Joe, How will those fired remedy the damage they inflicted on Wendy?

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

all of Wendy's wounds have been self-inflicted, don't worry.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 6:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All you have to do is look at the lead photo and the sign "McCaw Obey the Law" to see how much damage this arrogant rabble tried to inflict on their former boss. The Duct Tape rabble was wrong. Wendy was right. Why shouldn't she have fought back like hell?

These people in the picture have only themselves to thank for losing their jobs which indeed was their own was self-inflicted wounds. And they still have not moved on. Wendy now has to be getting the last laugh if she even cares, while they keep twisting slowly, slowly in the wind of their own hot air.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 7:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"arrogant rabble"? In dungarees yet. One almost thinks even Ms. McCaw might find your devotions disturbing.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 8 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@JoeHill: Well, maybe this was an activist ruling - frankly I'm glad to see one that doesn't take the liberal view for a change - or maybe the Court does not agree with your view of the applicability of precedent. But proclamations such as "there is no doubt" do nothing to enhance the proclaimer's credibility, rather they lead one to believe that the proclaimer is trying to impose his/her opinion through force of presentation.

If you are correct in your legal opinion, then I'm sure the Teamsters will fund an appeal and the Supreme Court will then get to decide, which may be that it's time for the Courts to accept lawsuits against regulatory bodies or not.

So just to be clear, while I'll take on faith the existence of the cases that you claim as precedent, I find those rulings incomprehensible. Repeating myself yet again, I find the idea of no appeal to a government appointed regulatory body to be repugnant, scary, and not in keeping with our concept of the rule of law.

Do you have so much faith in government bureaucrats that you think they should not have oversight? Ever worked with any directly? I have - not impressive. Our regulators did a wonderful job protecting us from financial catastrophe, didn't they? Folks like the FASB, who IMO should all be fired for incompetence or stupidity, take your pick. Ditto for the banking industry regulators, who are regularly outsmarted by the much more capable people in the private sector, to our detriment.

It will be very interesting to see what SCOTUS decides should they get the chance.

In the meanwhile, "your guy lost, get over it". Such delicious irony in that statement.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 11:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@JohnLocke, please don't confuse "deference" with the absence of review. There is judicial oversight of administrative agency adjudications, but it is not supposed to be "de novo" and contrary to applicable law, and the record as developed by the parties, as it was in this case. It's clear from your postings that you've worked backwards from your agreement with the result, so that the process and adherence to precedent, which is supposed to restrict the "ipse dixit" approach to decisionmaking in judicial and especially labor disputes, is defenestrated. The real trouble is that this is not an academic discussion, but involves the practical justice that was denied eight deserving people who were fired, and many more who would like to see justice done at this particular workplace.

@Oblati, if McCaw had obeyed the law, none of this would have occurred. Yes, she has the right to publish what she wants, and to operate an unethical publication even as she claims otherwise. But that right to a press free from government interference in what may be published had not, until now, been permitted by any court to extend to violating others' rights to organize or to be free from employer punishment for so doing, including publicly showing disagreement with the employer's labor relations policies and practices, and protesting wrongs imposed on other employees.

From the tenor of your posts, that outcome doesn't bother you, and you're pleased that protesters may be bruised by a constitutional provision meant to be a protective shield now transformed into a cudgel to deny and punish employees unfortunate enough not to own a printing press.

There's not much point in arguing further with either of you, because JL is happy with dishonest judicial outcomes as long as they align with his predilections, and Oblati is happy with whatever Wendy wants, regardless of justice.

JoeHill (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So the wicked witch of the soggy, mossy Northwest (my primary home) scooped up her mobile phone windfall and deposited it in an exclusive beach community (my second home) at the feet of people who could help her the most. I am so sorry.

It is rumored that a mosquito would die in a room full of bloodless technocrats. A prophecy for the despised insects who serve Wendy?

turnleft (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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