Taking It to the Overpass: News-Press staff protest

Organized N-P Newsroom Urges Drivers to Cancel Their Newspaper Subscriptions

How do you get your message out to thousands of people at once?
Hang a banner on 101 for all the morning commuters
to see! News-Press%20101%20Protest.jpg

That’s exactly what some current and former employees of the
News-Press newsroom did on Friday morning at about 7:30
a.m. They traveled with banners and signs to the top of the Anapamu
Street footbridge, and let their flags fly for
nearly an hour, urging commuters to cancel their
subscriptions to the News-Press
and calling for
the illegal firings to stop. (The firings are considered by the
newsroom to be illegal because they appear to be directly related
to the terminated employees’ involvement in the drive to unionize,
which was approved by employees 33-6 last September. The vote’s
verification,
which was challenged by N-P management last month in
cour
t, is currently under review by the National Labor Relations Board.)

The move was triggered by last week’s
firing of reporter Anna Davison
, explained Melinda Burns, who

was also fired last October
for her union involvement and is
fighting to get her job back. News-Press%20101%20Protest2.jpg While Burns knows that thousands have
already cancelled their subscriptions in support of the newsroom,
she is hoping that this morning’s exercise will remind others to do
the same.

“We would just like people who are still subscribing to the
News-Press that the situation is terrible, just terrible,”
explained an audibly exasperated Burns. “We don’t know who’s going
to be next. This has to stop. These are illegal
firings and Wendy McCaw is breaking the law by retaliating against
the people who are trying to form a union.” Burns described the
firing of her and her colleagues as “a campaign in the
newsroom to strike fear into the hearts”
of the employees,
who have already had to restrict their free speech by removing
buttons and placards in their cars that say “Wendy McCaw: Obey the
Law.”

Burns said that she’s aware many people think that Santa
Barbara is not a “union town,”
but she explains that there
is no other choice for the newsroom. News-Press%20101%20Protest3.jpg “We absolutely have to have a union at
the News-Press in order to ensure that we can do our jobs
without interference,” said Burns. “We see a contract as an
instrument for us, because we have to be able to put it in writing
and safeguard our profession and our ability to be
professionals. That’s what this is all about — freedom of the
press, freedom of speech….We feel that our profession is under
attack at the Santa Barbara News-Press and we’re trying to
defend it by getting a union contract. I defy anybody to
come up with a better idea.
We gotta have it in
writing.”

So, said Burns, “We’re asking the public to help us and to
get the community its paper back by cancelling
their subscriptions.”

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