1/15/08

Teamster newspaper journalists win!

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) federal judge in California has ruled that the owner and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press must hire back the eight journalists she fired in retaliation for their efforts to join the Teamsters Union.

Journalists in the newsroom at the News-Press began a union organizing campaign in 2006 and voted to become Teamsters in September of that year. The judge found that the publisher illegally threatened and coerced workers who supported the union and unlawfully fired eight journalists in retaliation.

"I congratulate our Teamsters members at the News-Press for bravely standing strong and fighting against this unscrupulous publisher who has no regard for reporters and their journalistic ideals," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

Many of the fired journalists had worked at the News-Press for more than 10 years.

"We won a significant battle with the NLRB's ruling in favor of our members at the Santa Barbara News-Press," said George Tedeschi, Teamsters Vice President and President of the Teamsters Graphic Communications Conference. "This ruling is a great victory for them and for all workers."

The NLRB's ruling now sets the stage for union representatives to begin negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement.

"We are elated that the judge came down so strongly to protect our right to unionize," said Melinda Burns, a 21-year News-Press veteran who was fired in October 2006. "He understood that we are fighting for workers' rights and journalistic integrity, and he did not let (Publisher Wendy) McCaw get away with breaking the law."

"This has been a long, hard struggle," said Dawn Hobbs, a former crime and courts reporter with the News-Press. "Without the support of the Teamsters, I don't know where we would be today. But this whole ordeal will be worth it when we are able to negotiate a fair contract that protects our rights and when we are able to walk back into the News-Press building and write the quality journalism our community deserves."

The Teamsters Graphic Communications Conference represents more than 70,000 journalists, pressmen, bindery workers and other crafts in the newspaper and book publishing industry in the United States. Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

(union-network.org)

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