NLRB Rejects ‘L.A. Times’ Union Vote Challenge

By: Joe Strupp

A National Labor Relations Board hearing officer rejected the Los Angeles Times’ challenge of a vote to unionize 280 press employees under a division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The workers had voted, 140-131, on Jan. 6, 2007 to be represented by the Graphics Communications Conference of the Teamsters, according to a union release. The newspaper filed a motion to challenge the vote, claiming union organizers had unlawfully sought to influence the election. A hearing by NLRB Officer Jessica A. Totten was held on Feb. 15 and 16.

She revealed her decision on March 16, according to a copy of the order just obtained by E&P.

“The hearing officer rejected the Times’ claims that brief, innocuous conversations among only election observers who had already voted, or a single conversation between one union supporter and an individual employee, or alleged campaign statements about sending a ‘message’ to the Employer about employee dissatisfaction by voting for the union, could somehow form the basis for deeming the election unfair,” the union said in a statement.

“In fact, especially given the well-known concern among LA Times employees about possible changes in corporate ownership, and in light of the NLRB’s traditional recognition that representational campaigns can be emotional and heartfelt without being improper, the LA Times’ showing was particularly weak and unimpressive, based on nothing more than vague and unproven assertions and rumors.”

Totten further ordered that the union be recognized as the bargaining unit for the press employees and for collective bargaining to begin.

The newspaper, in a statement, said, “The Los Angeles Times has received the decision of the Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) and are currently exploring our options, including filing an appeal with the NLRB in Washington D.C.”

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