Recent staff cuts at a group of San Francisco Bay Area newspapers are retaliatory against union organizers, critics allege.
The Northern California Media Workers Guild filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that Dean Singleton’s Bay Area News Group targeted organizers behind the recent votes to unionize the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and other newspapers.
The Associated Press reports that the layoffs came two weeks after the vote in favor of union representation, and included several strong proponents of unionizing hundreds of employees.
Sara Steffens, who was voted chair of the paper’s bargaining unit, called her layoff retaliatory.
“They wanted to keep me from continuing to engage co-workers as we push for our first contract and they hoped this would send a message to scare people away from further union activity,” she told the AP.
The newspaper’s legal counsel called the charge “ridiculous.”
“The reporters laid off were in beats the papers did not believe they could continue to cover during the severe economic downturn they’ve had,” said Marshall Anstandig.
Management “took a hard look at areas where there was overlap or redundancies,” wrote Kevin Keane, editor of the Contra Costa Times, in a note to his staff.
–John Hornberg/Newsdesk.org-The Public Press
“Newspaper union files unfair labor practice charge”
Associated Press, July 15, 2008