NLRB Files More Complaints Against News-Press

Feds Will Prosecute Recent Firings of Reporters, Who Were Probably Protected by Labor Laws

Call it a double-whammy week for News-Press owner Wendy McCaw (pictured with fiancee/co-publisher Arthur von Wiesenberger) and her management team. A day after a judge advised the National Labor Relations Board that the News-Press newsroom’s unionization vote last September was legal and valid, the NLRB’s lawyers announced that the newspaper’s management – under the name Ampersand Publishing – would be prosecuted for the recent firings of Anna Davison, Dawn Hobbs, Barney McManigal, Rob Kuznia, Tom Schultz, Melissa Evans, and John Zant. But perhaps more crushing for McCaw and her management style is that the regional NLRB is also contacting it’s Washington D.C. office to determine whether a 10(j) injunction is appropriate, which would put a federal lock on any further employment actions by the News-Press.

The filing of this unfair labor practice-related complaint means that the NLRB’s general counsel, represented here by attorney Brian Gee, believes there’s enough evidence to suggest such terminations were due to these employees actions with their union, the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters. That union’s attorney Ira Gottlieb has compared such a complaint to a District Attorney’s office deciding to prosecute a criminal. And like a DA’s usually victorious case, Gottlieb explained on Monday, March 12, that he’s heard such charges are successfully prosecuted about 80 percent of the time.

Additionally, the NLRB’s general counsel is filing charges that the newspaper’s management gave poor performance reviews to Davison, Evans, Hobbs, and Karna Hughes due to their activity with the union; that management was illegally interrogating employees about their union activity; and that management illegally blocked employees from wearing pro-union buttons and from placing placards with such slogans as “McCaw, Obey the Law” and “Banish the Bias” in their car windows. The March 13 document also confirms that the regional NLRB is forwarding two other alleged unfair labor practices to the national “Division of Advice”: the allegation that attorney A. Barry Cappello (pictured) issued threatening statements and that editor Bob Guiliano was fired for refusing to commit an unfair labor practice.

As well, the NLRB will proceed with prosecuting the News-Press management for the October 2006 firing of Melinda Burns, which was slated to be heard this past Monday until the more recent firings triggered this new round of inquiry. The December 27, 2006 NLRB complaint about Burns’ firing also included charges related to the canceling of Starshine Roshell‘s weekly column for her union activity, the suspension threat issued to 11 employees who tried to deliver a letter about improving working conditions to McCaw, and the censorship-like policy that precluded employees from speaking or writing about their situation during their free time.

No hearing date was set.

As for the News-Press‘ comment on this matter, the newspaper’s spokesperson Agnes Huff responded via email at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, to inform this reporter that attorney Barry Cappello would be making a comment on this matter. An email was sent at 6 p.m. to Cappello and his assistant Jane Ortiz, a phone call was placed to Cappello’s direct line, and a message was left. Cappello was again called 7:25 p.m. and another message was left. By 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, no News-Press attorney or spokesperson had issued a comment on the matter.

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