NLRB Calls On the Union-Tribune to Answer Unfairness Allegations

Times Staff Writer

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered a September administrative hearing for officials of the San Diego Union-Tribune to respond to allegations that the company has engaged in unfair labor practices in its contract negotiations with the San Diego Newspaper Guild.

In a 16-page order signed by NLRB Regional Director Victoria E. Aguayo last month, the board listed 37 specific allegations against the Union-Tribune Publishing Co. The allegations arose from charges raised by the Guild, which has attempted to negotiate a new contract with the company for a year.

An NLRB official said an administrative law judge will preside and federal rules of evidence will apply at the hearing. Guild administrative officer Robert Kemp called the NLRB order "an answer to the question who has been stalling negotiations." Union-Tribune Editor-in-Chief Herbert Klein was unavailable for comment.

In the order signed by Aguayo, Union-Tribune officials are alleged to have "interfered with, restrained and coerced" Guild members. The order further alleges that Union-Tribune officials are "discouraging membership in a labor organization" and have "refused . . . to bargain collectively and in good faith" with the Guild.

The order lists specific instances of alleged wrongdoing by the company. One allegation, dealing with alleged violations of the grievance procedure by Union-Tribune officials, was couched in especially harsh language.

According to the document, since Feb. 12, the company has been "generally engaging in a pattern of petty harassment, obfuscation, and vituperation calculated to substantially undermine the arbitration procedure. . . . " The document also alleges instances in which Union-Tribune officials illegally "conducted surveillance of employees engaged in Guild activities."

Some Guild employees were told that taking time off for Guild business "would count against (them) when being considered for promotion or transfer," according to the allegations. The document also alleged that other employees were told that the filing of grievances "would count against employees when being considered for promotion or transfer."

About 1,000 workers at the Union-Tribune are represented by the Guild, including reporters, librarians and employees in the circulation and advertising departments.

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