The fight between the Santa Barbara News-Press and its former employees continues, most recently with the Graphics Communication Conference – the segment of the Teamsters Union representing those in the print and publishing industries – announced its intention to file a charge of unfair labor practices against the Santa Barbara News-Press on Wednesday, February 20, and then the paper’s lawyers filing another charge of unfair labor practices against the Teamsters today.
This most recent allegation of wrongdoing on the part the beleaguered daily stems from what a press statement from Teamsters lawyer Ira Gottlieb termed as “retaliatory refusal to provide annual raises.” In short, the statement claimed that the News-Press had provided newsroom employees with an annual raises since Wendy McCaw purchased the paper in 2000 yet had failed to do so in 2006 – a year, the statement noted, was conspicuous because it marked the beginning of the workplace turmoil and the year in which staff voted in favor of affiliating with the Teamsters union. The release quoted Gottlieb with the following: “The employer told us there were pre-2006 years when no newsroom employees received annual raises, but the spread sheet the employer provided a few weeks ago at our request showed the facts to be otherwise.” Gottlieb was also quotes as saying that the Teamsters received no explanation from the paper regarding this apparent discrepancy.
Upon being contacted by the Independent regarding these charges against the News-Press, paper lawyer Barry Cappello said the Teamsters’ claims were “frivolous.” “Can you imagine an employer being required to give employees raises regardless of whether they deserve them?” he said.
Cappello alleged that the paper had been in the process of bargaining with the Teamsters regarding matters such as employee wages when these charges were filed. Calling the tactic “strange,” Cappello noted that he thought the move may have been a pre-emptive one against charges filed by the News-Press today against the Teamers. This charge of unfair labor practices alleges that union activists – union agents and representatives, “including but not limited to [former News-Press employees] Dawn Hobbs and Tom Schultz” – threatened or coerced people preparing copies of the News-Press for delivery to vendors, carriers and subscribers about six months ago. Cappello said the filing of the charge was delayed until Hobbs and Shultz could be identified.
In response to the News-Press‘s charge, Gottlieb denied that Hobbs or Schultz had made any threats or coerced anybody. “The event apparently in question – the charge itself offers no facts whatsoever – happened in September. There was no threat, no coercion, no picketing, but apparently a single lawful, mild and amicable interaction between two union supporters and News-Press employees,” he said. “We expect the [Nartional Labor Relations Board] to dismiss this charge promptly.”