Register-Guard Loses Union Dispute

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTIAN WIHTOL Register-Guard Business Editor

A federal labor judge has ruled against Guard Publishing Co., publisher of The Register-Guard, and in favor of one of the newspaper's labor unions in a dispute over e-mail and display of union insignia.

John McCarrick, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board, ruled Feb. 21 that Guard Publishing violated the National Labor Relations Act by: disciplining an employee for using a company computer to send union-related e-mail; directing an employee to stop wearing a union arm band; and proposing during ongoing contract negotiations with the labor union, The Eugene Newspaper Guild, an e-mail policy that would ban workers from using company e-mail to communicate about union issues.

McCarrick said the violations constitute unfair labor practices, and he told the company to stop them.

The company disagrees with McCarrick and will appeal his ruling to the full panel of the National Labor Relations Board, said Cynthia Walden, the newspaper's human resources director. She declined further comment on the ruling.

The union is "thrilled" by the judge's decision, said Adele Berlinski, president of the guild, which represents newsroom reporters, copy editors and other newspaper employees.

McCarrick's ruling is the latest chapter in a complex, multiyear struggle between the guild and the newspaper to negotiate a new labor contract. The sides have been unable to reach agreement after almost three years of bargaining.

McCarrick's ruling deals primarily with the newspaper's e-mail policies and practices. …