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Policy: Labor

NLRB defies First Amendment ruling, sanctions newspaper

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,NLRB,First Amendment

A long-running conflict between the Teamsters and the Santa Barbara News-Press  has resulted in the National Labor Relations  Board sanctioning the newspaper for firing employees who were involved in organizing. The paper contended they were fired because they violated editorial policy. The NLRB’s sanction comes despite the fact that an Appeals Court earlier ruled that doing so would violate the paper’s First Amendment rights.

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon (and a former News-Press writer) reported:

The NLRB’s order contradicts a December 2012 D.C. Court of Appeals ruling that found the newspaper was within its First Amendment rights to fire its writers.

“The First Amendment affords a publisher—not a reporter—absolute authority to shape a newspaper’s content,” the appeals court ruled [emphasis theirs]. “‘Journalistic integrity,’ as conceived by the board and the reporters, requires a publisher’s cession of some of its editorial control, the First Amendment precludes government coercion in its name.”

News-Press director of operations Don Katich said the board was working to undercut the court in order to please the union.

“The NLRB’s continual assault on the News-Press appears to be yet another overreaching action by a federal bureaucracy that is obsessed with its own power, accountable to no-one, and willing to subjugate the rule of law and constitutional rights to further its unholy partnership with the union,” he said.

A majority of newsroom workers voted to join the Teamsters in September 2006, two months after the firings. However, the May 31 NLRB decision came two weeks after reporters at the newspaper voted to withdraw from the Teamsters.

UPDATE: Media Research Center Vice President for Business and Culture Dan Gainor told the Washington Examiner:  ”Could you imagine if a Republican-packed NLRB went after the Washington Post and told them who they could hire and fire? You would be able to hear the screaming from journalists across the land without even having to turn on the TV or your Internet.”

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