TEAMSTERS START SPREADIN’ THE NEWS

by Nick Welsh

The clash between News-Press owner — and
co-publisher — Wendy McCaw and her newsroom got a lot more intense
last Friday afternoon, as Teamsters union organizer Marty Keegan
(pictured) announced the beginning of a public campaign to pressure
McCaw to bargain with her workers and to restore the so-called wall
separating news reporting from interference by the owner and
publishers of the South Coast’s oldest daily. Keegan and
News-Press employees, along with community supporters,
have begun distributing brightly colored cancellation pledges to be
activated if McCaw refuses to meet their demands by September
5.

Since late June, seven high-ranking editors, one senior
reporter, and columnist Barney Brantingham have resigned from the
News-Press in protest, complaining that publishers have
spiked legitimate news stories that were embarrassing to McCaw and
the other co-publishers. New-Press workers remaining on
the job have sought protection by enlisting the aid of the
Teamsters. Five years ago, Keegan helped lead a cancellation drive
and advertising boycott against the San Diego
Union-Tribune
in a successful drive to secure a contract on
behalf of the paper’s press operators. In a prepared statement
released by her publicist Agnes Huff, McCaw denied any breach of
journalistic ethics, insisting that as owner, she was only trying
to “get things back on track.” She also stated, “While the
News-Press respects the rights of its employees to seek
unionization, we do not believe that bringing in a third party such
as the Teamsters is the solution to any issues our employees may
have.” News-Press employees said there has been no
retribution against the reporters and editors who placed grey duct
tape over their mouths at a rally two weeks ago to protest the
paper’s gag order on public discussion of internal matters. Keegan,
who has yet to seek a sit-down with McCaw or the paper’s
management, pledged the full resources of his union to the
campaign. He said he’s giving News-Press management 45
days to formulate a response. “But if we don’t receive satisfaction
for these employees, we’ll call for complete regime change,” Keegan
promised.

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