"One's treatment of his Workers, sets the treatment of his Customers."
Newspapers - The People's Worst Enemy
(From the Communications Workers of America Newsletter, 11/3/98)
The holiday season kicked off early this year for union-represented newspaper
workers in Detroit.
On Sept. 1, the full National Labor Relations Board unanimously ordered
the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press to rehire hundreds of workers who
went on strike more than three years ago_and to pay them hundreds of millions
of dollars in back pay.
Managements at the papers were also told they would have to clear the way
for the returning workers, even if it meant firing the "permanent"
replacements hired to break the strike.
The NLRB's key finding was that the walkout was an "unfair labor practice
strike"_which legally precludes permanent replacement_that was provoked by
management's refusal to provide information sought by the unions as part of
the collective bargaining process.
The full board's ruling came on an appeal by the publishers of a decision
by an NLRB administrative law judge who also had deemed the walkout an unfair
labor practice strike.
Union leaders say the ruling could cost management at the daily newspapers
as much as $80 million a year in back pay awards.
CWA Vice President Linda Foley, who heads up The Newspaper Guild CWA,
labeled the publishers of the newspapers_the Gannett and Knight Ridder
chains_"serial law breakers." She added: "Once again, the publishers have
been found to have deliberately engineered this trag ic strike and to have
sustained a brutal campaign against these working families for exercising
their basic collective bargaining rights."