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Our Opinion: Intimidation and the union playbook


September 3, 2006 7:58 AM

Union theatrics have descended on Santa Barbara just in time for Labor Day.

From nailing signs into street trees to trying to convince our community that the News-Press' 200-plus workforce supports the disruptive tactics of a small group of employees, the tactics come out of a familiar union playbook.

No one disputes that employees have a right to organize and work collectively to bargain for higher wages or benefits. That's the law.

But what should be frowned upon are people who don't put in an honest day's work, in an attempt to harm the companies that employ them or hurt the livelihoods of their co-workers in other departments.

What also shouldn't be tolerated are efforts to mislead the public.

The News-Press, for example, has been working to banish any personal bias from reporting. On this page, we've shared results of an independent survey that found a large majority of readers believe News-Press reporters project their views into stories and aren't staying neutral.

But union representatives -- apparently unhappy that editors might be exercising the proper oversight -- are engaged in a campaign suggesting that the News-Press management wants biased stories.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Any way one looks at it, from a journalistic or business viewpoint, a newspaper's standing requires credibility.

It's a shame that union organizers are trying to degrade the paper's efforts to usher in more balance to reporting.

Our community deserves better than outsiders trying to tear down the local daily newspaper as a way to get members to pay dues to support their national organization.

In general, disinformation can be one hallmark of union organizing campaigns as union bosses warp facts.

So can coercion and intimidation.

The Center for Union Facts notes: "Many union officials have ordered or approved of violent, coercive, and harassing conduct aimed at making an example of employees who don't toe the union line. The National Institute for Labor Relations Research has compiled a list of incidents of union violence that average nearly 300 per year for the last 30 years."

The center reports that in 2005, unions had more than 6,000 allegations of wrongdoing. More than 80 percent of the charges "alleged illegal restraint and coercion of employees (by comparison, the leading allegation against employers -- at 53 percent -- was for refusal to bargain)."

Any of this kind of intimidation has no place at the News-Press or in Santa Barbara.