The (n)ever ending story

Barney Brantingham, who probably holds the record for length of service as a Santa Barbara News-Press journalist (nearly half a century), gives us The Endless Stunner: News-Press Strife Goes Way Past Overtime. The money grafs:

The refs call penalty after penalty: offside against Team McCaw: illegal procedures, ineligible receivers downfield, unsportsmanlike conduct, personal fouls, touchbacks and safeties and everything else in the rule book. Everything, that is, except blow their whistles to end the craziness.

This game has been running now for 18 months but time on the clock seems to be expanding like a Salvador Dali surrealist watch face. If this was a real football game the players would all be drawing Social Security before it ends — if it ever does. It’s like one of those 1930s marathon dances except that McCaw’s legal tapdancers never seem to get tired or slump to the floor.

The year 2006 has gone into 2007 and now 2008. Just the other day, National Labor Relations Board Judge William Kocol ruled that McCaw violated enough federal unfair labor practices to fill a whole L.A. Times sports section. Among other things, his 71-page decision ruled that McCaw must rehire eight journalists fired in retaliation for their union activities. She disregarded their “fundamental rights” as employees, Kocol said. Some people have been saying that the workers have no rights and that McCaw could do anything she wanted. She owns the paper, doesn’t she? No so, the judge ruled. Employees have a legal right under federal law to organize and it’s illegal to try to thwart them.

This was settled in the courts generations ago.

So the yellow flags have been thrown against the paper once more and once more McCaw has vowed to appeal. That’s her legal right too and she can afford it. But the handful of journalists could never have financed this battle if they hadn’t been backed by the NLRB, the Teamsters — and the law of the land. By one estimate, the Teamsters have shelled out $400,000 in the battle, and are still racking up costs without end.

Here’s the LA Times piece on the latest.

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