Tuesday Kicks Off the News-Press NLRB Hearings
Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 9, at 9 a.m. in the U.S. Bankruptcy
Court on State Street is the hour everyone’s been waiting for since
the newsroom of the Santa Barbara News-Press overwhelmingly voted to join the Graphic
Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters. That’s when an administrative law judge representing
the National Labor
Relations Board will hear objections to the September 27
pro-union vote, which was 33 in favor of unionization and 6
The hearing was scheduled soon after the vote, when
News-Press owner Wendy McCaw did what many business owners
faced with unionization do: charge that the vote was somehow
compromised and file objections to the outcome. Specifically,
McCaw’s team is charging four things.
The first is that newsroom supervisors were involved in the
election, which is not allowed according to the NLRB. This is seems
to be a fairly common charge in unionization cases.
The second is that the savethenewspress.com website and various bumper
stickers issued by the Teamsters tricked some employees into
believing that the newspaper itself was in favor of
The third is that a threat posted by an unnamed commenter on
blogabarbara.blogspot.com intimidated some employees
into voting for unionization.
And the fourth is that the newsroom staff engaged in threatening
behavior when delivering a letter to McCaw as a group.
The hearing is expected to last three days and is open to the
public. Numerous witnesses will be called to vet these charges, and
then the judge will decide whether McCaw’s side has merit.
So what are the odds of her succeeding? Well, McCaw’s legal
eagles already submitted charges #1, #2, and #4 to the NLRB as
unfair labor practices. The NLRB threw them out. (The NLRB did not,
however, throw out the charges levied by the newsroom staff against
McCaw and N-P management. Those unfair labor practice charges will, in fact,
be heard on February 26.)
And for #3, the threat posted and then taken down at
Blogabarbara? Since the N-P itself reposted the threat in
a press release on Business Wire, thereby disseminating it to a
wider audience, it seems doubtful that a judge would see in their
favor on that one.
The union proponents are going into tomorrow’s hearing with
their heads held high. “We anticipate victory in connection with
these baseless objections,” explained a recent press release,
“which were clearly filed by the company with the sole intent of
delaying SBNP co-publisher and owner Wendy McCaw’s obligation to
sit down at the table and negotiate a fair contract with her
employees which will restore integrity to the newsroom.”
So get ready for the showdown. The gloves come off tomorrow.