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Board finds Santa Barbara newspaper continued to violate federal labor law, must bargain with union, reinstate employees, take other remedial steps

Because of continuing violations of federal labor law, the NLRB has issued a broad cease-and-desist order against the publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press and ordered it to bargain in good faith with the union representing its employees. The Board also extended the union’s certification period by one year and ordered Ampersand Publishing, LLC, to reimburse the union for past bargaining expenses.

A three-member panel of the Board noted that its September 27 rulingagainst Ampersand was the second in two years, and that the publisher has failed to bargain in good faith with the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamster despite an overwhelming vote in favor of the union by employees. Instead, the Board found, Ampersand submitted proposals that would have allowed the publisher to unilaterally set wages, discipline employees and hire and fire employees.

The Board also found, in agreement with Administrative Law Judge Clifford H. Anderson, that the publisher committed numerous other violations, including unlawfully firing and suspending an employee for union and concerted activities, laying off an employee without providing the Union with notice or an opportunity to bargain, failing to grant unit employees traditional merit increases without bargaining with the union, transferring unit work to non-union freelance journalists, and offering employees the services of its attorneys if contacted by a Board agent investigating unfair labor practice charges.

“By bargaining in bad faith with the Union for the entire certification year and beyond, while simultaneously engaging in serious and widespread unfair labor practices, the Respondent has both precluded any progress in bargaining and undermined the Union’s bargaining strength and support among unit employees,” the Board found.

In addition to extending the certification period and ordering reimbursement of bargaining expenses, the Board ordered the publisher to stop moving union work to non-union contract employees, to rescind (on request) a unilaterally-imposed one-story-per-day productivity standard, and to offer reinstatement to two employees and make them whole for lost earnings.

In its earlier decisionagainst Ampersand Publishing, issued in August 2011, the Board found the publisher had fired numerous News-Press journalists because of their union activity and ordered it to: offer reinstatement to eight employees, including six who hung a banner from a footbridge urging motorists to cancel their newspaper subscription and two others who were ostensibly fired for ‘biased reporting’; rescind discriminatory evaluations of four union supporters; rescind suspension notices sent to eleven employees; and make all harmed employees whole with backpay awards.

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