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Santa Barbara Union Files Another NLRB Complaint -- Claims Bad-Faith Bargaining.

The union representing newsroom employees at the embattled Santa Barbara News-Press has filed yet another unfair labor charge, claiming the paper is avoiding the use of union members by hiring temporary staffers and failing to bargain in good faith.

The complaint, filed Monday with the National Labor Relations Board, contends that Ampersand Publishing, which owns the paper, is "subcontracting and/or using employees it labels 'temporary' employees to perform bargaining unit work."

The Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which newsroom employees voted in as their representative in August 2006, filed the charge. It claims the paper began subcontracting for the temporary workers a month before the union voted occurred.

"This union avoidance ploy will not stand," Nick Caruso, chief union negotiator said in a statement. "We tried to address and resolve this fundamental issue at the bargaining table without adversary action or rancor, but the employer insisted it has the right to continue to shrink the bargaining unit (now at approximately 23, according to the employer) while adding in unprecedented fashion, an allegedly 'temporary'workforce.

"This transparent union evasion scheme should not be tolerated by the federal agency created to enforce and protect employee rights, including the basic right to be represented by the union, especially at this delicate stage of the bargaining process," Caruso added.

News-Press officials could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The NLRB, which has reviewed more than a dozen unfair labor complaints by the union in the past year, will conduct an investigation and determine whether the charges are valid. The union complaint is the latest in a long-running series of labor-management fights at the paper that began in July 2006 when several newsroom leaders, led by Editor Jerry Roberts, quit in protest of alleged meddling by owner Wendy McCaw.

Since then, at least 46 newsroom employees have been fired or quit, according to, a Web site operated by union supporters.

The turmoil prompted the formation of the newsroom bargaining unit, as well as an ongoing boycott campaign urging readers to cancel subscriptions. The paper has also seen an economic drop, revealing in the last Audit Bureau of Circulations Fas-Fax report in October that its circulation had dropped 14.1% to 33,755 for the six-month period ending September 2007.

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Title Annotation:National Labor Relations Board cases over Santa Barbara News-Press
Author:Strupp, Joe
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 28, 2007
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