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Guild files NLRB charge over Chronicle firing of news correspondents.

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 9, 1995--The Northern California Newspaper Guild yesterday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the San Francisco Chronicle over the recent dismissal of 12 suburban news correspondents, according to Carl Hall, administrative officer for the Guild.

The charge was filed with the San Francisco regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The Guild asserted that the dismissals amounted to punishment of the correspondents for honoring union picket lines during the November 1994 strike at the Chronicle, Examiner and Newspaper Agency.

Federal labor laws makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees for union activity. If the NLRB's investigation upholds the union charge, a complaint would be issued against the newspaper that may force the rehiring, with back pay, of the individuals who lost their jobs.

All other Chronicle newsroom employees were brought back to work on the Monday morning following the weekend strike settlement. But when the correspondents reported to work, they were sent home and told their services no longer were needed. Since then, all 12 have been effectively blacklisted by the newspaper -- barred even from doing spot freelance work.

Chronicle Guild members have contributed nearly $8,000 into a special relief fund set up on behalf of their colleagues.

The Guild also is pursuing a grievance concerning the employment status of the correspondents, who have been treated by the newspaper as "independent contractors." The grievance, filed in March 1994, is scheduled for binding arbitration on Feb. 21 in San Francisco.

The Guild maintains that the correspondents had been used as regular employees, in most cases on a full-time basis, to cover news in Bay Area suburbs. The company set regular hours of work and maintained tight control over how assignments were completed. The main difference between the correspondents and regular reporters was compensation -- correspondents were paid a flat $500 per week without benefits, while top-scale reporters at the Chronicle received roughly $900 a week, plus pension rights, health coverage, job security and other benefits.

The Guild contract with the Chronicle allows use only of "independent stringers" who are "non-employees." The state Employment Development Department already has determined the Chronicle correspondents were, in fact, employees. A similar finding is sought before the NLRB.

CONTACT: Northern California Newspaper Guild, San Francisco

Carl Hall, 415/421-6833
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 9, 1995
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