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3 charges against News-Press withdrawn

December 12, 2006 12:00 AM

Three unfair labor practice charges filed by the Teamsters Union against the News-Press have been withdrawn.

In a statement released Monday, newspaper spokeswoman Agnes Huff said the National Labor Relations Board advised the paper the union "has agreed to withdraw three of the unfair labor practice charges they filed against the paper, after having been informed the NLRB found insufficient evidence to proceed on the charges."

Withdrawn were:

- An allegation that the paper unfairly discharged an employee;

- A claim that the paper conducted an unlawful interview with an employee;

- An allegation that the paper unlawfully changed reporters' work assignments.

A fourth claim, involving an allegation by the Teamsters that the paper engaged in unlawful surveillance of employees was dismissed, Ms. Huff said, after the NLRB decided "further proceedings were not warranted."

"We are encouraged that after a thorough investigation by the NLRB, these four baseless union claims were found to be without merit," said David Millstein, general counsel for the Santa Barbara News-Press.

If a regional director with the NLRB decides a charge has no merit, the "charging party" -- in this case the union -- is provided with an explanation and afforded the opportunity to withdraw the charge.

The charging party can also request a dismissal and appeal the decision.

In September, newsroom staff voted 33-6 to join Local 406 of the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The newspaper, however, is challenging the election, alleging coercion, and the NLRB has announced it will hold a hearing on the matter.

In a statement following the election, employees who voted for union representation said, "This historic vote sends a serious message to the company that we are strong and united in our efforts."

But the paper says, "The barrage of intimidating tactics being played out in Santa Barbara against the paper have nothing to do with the newsroom employees at the News-Press. Such public displays highlight Teamster underlying motives to pacify and retain members to justify union dues at a time that union membership is declining."

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