Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back by Unpopular Demand

Four years ago, Fraters Libertas covered this disturbing story out of Santa Barbara News-Press:

Three reporters - Dawn Hobbs, Rob Kuznia and Barney McManigal - were fired Monday evening, while three others - John Zant, Thomas Schultz and Melissa Evans - were terminated Tuesday.

The firings came after a group of employees displayed a banner reading "Cancel Your Newspaper Today" from a bridge over Highway 101 in Santa Barbara during last Friday morning's rush hour.

It was a sad reflection of the labor wars raging across the nation back in the dark Bush years. The economy was in precarious straights. Declining revenues and increasing costs forced employers to implement cutbacks. Union employees were revolting and became even more brazen in their demands and threats for ever more. Good thing we’re past all that!

Not so fast! Like a Ron Paul campaign for President, you should never presume a union employee is gone for good. Breaking news out of Santa Barbara from this week:

NLRB Orders News-Press to Reinstate Fired Reporters

In a long-awaited decision, the National Labor Relations Board today ordered the Santa Barbara News-Press to reinstate eight reporters the paper illegally fired for union activities. They are: John Zant, Melinda Burns, Anna Davison, Tom Schultz, Melissa Evans, Rob Kuznia, Barney McManigal, and Dawn Hobbs.

I’ll say it’s long awaited, four years to be exact. But the rusty gears of justice finally whirred into action and those poor, maligned employees, who just happened to have been trying to cut their employer’s throat, are ordered by the government to be returned to their positions.

Well, they may get their jobs back, but for their astonishing lack of loyalty and professionalism, at least they had to suffer four years of income loss.

Not so fast!

The NLRB also ordered back pay for the eight fired reporters.

OK, they may get their jobs back and hundreds of thousands in back pay, but at least the acrimony will have died down, people will have matured, and we’ll not be subjected to the absurd spectacle of professional employees of a company urging their customers to abandon them in order to further union objectives.

Not so fast!

Said [reporter Melinda Burns]: “We are delighted that the labor board has ruled so strongly in our favor. It was a unanimous (3-0) bipartisan decision. … We have a continuing boycott, and urge people to cancel their subscriptions. Please don’t buy, read, or advertise in the News-Press until McCaw obeys the law and signs a fair contract.”

Well, that should at least make for some spirited meetings in the marketing department at the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Hapless manager: Anybody have ideas for how to boost our circulation numbers and increase ad sales?

Non-unionized employee: How about we stop telling people not to buy, read, or advertise in the News-Press?

Hapless manager: Great idea, get his man a nomination form for employee of the month! Then report him to the NLRB for engaging in illegal anti-union activity.

We can’t forget it is the invisible hand of Obama’s NLRB behind this mess. You may remember them from past unjust interventions such as the lawsuit against Boeing for opening a new manufacturing plant in a right-to-work state.

The good news is, apparently the NLRB does not get the final word on the case of the Santa Barbarians.

"We are not surprised” by the NLRB “rubber-stamp” decision because of the political situation in Washington, said [News-Press attorney Michael Zinser], apparently referring to the Democratic administration and appointment of Democrats to fill long-vacant seats on the NLRB board.

Don Katich, News-Press Director of News Operations, released a prepared statement in response to the ruling. “The decision of the NLRB is not unexpected,” it reads. “This is just another decision of the current National Labor Relations Board in its assaults on businesses in the United States of America. In every instance so far, when Santa Barbara News-Press has been in the federal court system, it has prevailed over the National Labor Relations Board and the Teamsters Union. Santa Barbara News-Press fully expects to prevail again.”

Until then, welcome back surly, bitter union employees. Other than those times when you’re actively chasing away the readers and advertisers, I’m sure you’ll be an asset to the organization.