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Newsroom employees withdraw union recognition

By SCOTT STEEPLETON, NEWS-PRESS CITY EDITOR

May 18, 2013 06:00 AM

Newsroom employees at the Santa Barbara News-Press have decided to withdraw recognition of the Teamsters as their bargaining representative.

The newspaper notified the union of the majority decision Friday.

For several years, the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has been representing reporters, photographers, copy editors and other newsroom staff in talks toward an initial contract.

But a majority of the staff in question recently signed a petition to withdraw its support recognizing the union.

That decision is a right guaranteed employees under the National Labor Relations Act, the paper said in a statement, "and clearly a refutation of tactics used by the union during its continued onslaught against the owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press."

In December 2012, the paper won a victory against what it claimed for more than seven years was an attempt by some employees and the union to control content of the paper, usurping the publisher's First Amendment rights.

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed, sending a clear message that a publisher, not employees, has the "absolute authority to shape a newspaper's content."

In a stinging rebuke of the union and the National Labor Relations Board, the court majority compared the tactics used during the organizing campaign to that of a porn film, stating, "A truly pornographic film would not be rescued by inclusion of a few verses from the Psalms" in the same way the employees' dispute over content was not protected by adding a few "verses of protected issues."

The ruling could have been appealed to the full circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neither happened.

The same court subsequently found that President Obama's appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional. That, coupled with a similar ruling Thursday by a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, leaves hundreds of NLRB decisions in chaos.

In its statement, the News-Press called on the Teamsters to refrain from filing harassing unfair labor practice charges, calling the practice a transparent tactic aimed at delaying what a majority of newsroom employees at the Santa Barbara News-Press seek: to withdraw recognition of the union as bargaining representative.

The paper said it also expects the NLRB to honor the rights exercised by the newsroom employees to withdraw recognition of the Teamsters.

Email: ssteepleton@newspress.com

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