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Our Opinion: Union tactics, bias aren't welcome here

September 5, 2006 8:19 AM

The Teamsters organization, which is trying to organize the News-Press newsroom, undoubtedly will be up to its typical antics this week. From posting signs on trees to media stunts to trying to get our subscribers to give the union their personal information on cards, much of what Santa Barbarans are seeing is straight out of the union playbook.

Perhaps next up will be videotapes of News-Press employees or noisy demonstrations.

But what this community and our employees should not have to put up with is any sort of intimidation by anyone even remotely connected to the organizing effort. The News-Press management already has needed to take steps to make sure that disruptive behavior doesn't continue inside the News-Press building.

As we noted Sunday, unions in this country in 2005 had more than 6,000 allegations of wrongdoing. More than 80 percent of the charges alleged illegal restraint and coercion of employees.

No one disputes that employees have a right to organize and work collectively to bargain for higher wages or benefits. But this community, for example, should be troubled by the huge number of allegations of unfair labor practices filed against the Teamsters organization between 1989 and 2004. In all, these allegations totaled 6,900, according to data by the Bureau of National Affairs.

As the Center for Union Facts notes, the International Brothers of Teamsters perhaps is "best known for its historical relationship with the mafia and for the mysterious 1975 disappearance of its notorious president, Jimmy Hoffa, whose son is the current union's president. In 1989 the Justice Department brought a racketeering case against the union, saying that it was a 'wholly owned subsidiary of organized crime.' Since 1992, the Teamsters have been overseen by an Independent Review Board (IRB) that is charged with making sure the union stays clean. It is not entirely clear that this IRB has succeeded."

The center adds, "Four of the last eight Teamsters presidents have been indicted according to the FBI. . . . A 2002 article in the generally pro-union New Republic magazine noted that the IBT is 'still plagued by corruption; ex-felons and people with reputed mob associations lurk around the edges of key Teamster locals seeking influence over the union.'

Just as the News-Press has been working to banish any personal bias from reporting, the management will guard against the bosses of this union based in Washington, D.C., from ever slanting news coverage as it tries to organize our newsroom.


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