News-Press newsroom staffers
will vote on forming a union September 26—unless new hurdles loom.
There are 37 reporters, photographers, editors, and others eligible
to vote, union leaders said at a press conference today, September
5, at Storke Placita, adding that they are confident of approval of
more than the necessary 50 percent plus one.
However, attrition among the staffers
continues. Today sports desk staffer Kim Burnell
left, the 17th to resign since the meltdown began in early July.
Although newsroom personnel appeared at the conference, they did
not speak due to a gag order that’s under protest by the Graphic
Communications Conference of the Teamsters.
But Teamsters’ organizer Marty
Keegan announced that so far about 3,000 subscribers have
canceled, including those who signed cards pledging to quit by
today if no agreement had been reached with owner Wendy
McCaw. “We feel that over 10 percent (of subscribers) have
cancelled,” he said. “We ask the rest to cancel as soon as
possible” to support the journalists.
Although a meeting with
News-Press management during the weekend resulted in no
agreement over such disputes as beat changes and suspension of
nearly a dozen employees who sought to deliver a note to McCaw,
there has been tentative agreement on all sides to hold the
September 26 vote, Keegan said. “We know we have the votes,” he
The weekend talks were sought by News-Press management
but did not involve McCaw, the union said. But a community group
that included respected journalists Sander Vanocur
and Lou Cannon, civic leaders Harriett
Phillips and Connie Hannah, and the
Reverends Teena Grant and Ken
Collier said they asked to meet with McCaw to “explore any
and all alternatives to this damaging and seemingly endless
confrontation.” They did not hear from her. Rev. Grant said that a
letter from a list of religious leaders asking McCaw to treat the
journalists fairly was rejected by the News-Press, but
published in The Santa Barbara Independent.
Meanwhile, the News-Press has hired its third set of
labor lawyers since the union began organizing on July 6, said
Ira Gottlieb, Teamsters attorney.
Sue Broidy announced that residents concerned
about journalists who have lost their jobs at the paper have set up
a Journalists Loan Fund, Attn. Sue Broidy, 3412 Calle Noguera,
Santa Barbara, 93105. The Santa Barbara Bank and Trust account
number is 0100252972. More than $1,000 has already been raised and
she said she expected to raise at least $5,000 by the end of the