Monday, August 4, 2008

Washington Post + the Onion = ULP?

Onion Another story involving the Washington Post, this time courtesy of a recent ALJ decision in which with the paper was accused of violating the NLRA.  At issue was work for Post employees on related media outlets, Washington Post Radio and the Onion (which has an "article" this week called:  "Not Being An A[**]hole Boss May Boost Employee Morale").  The union alleged, among other things, that the Post unlawfully failed to bargain with the union about compensation for radio appearances and assignment of extra work for the Onion.

The ALJ rejected the ULP allegations based on the CBA's zipper and management rights clauses.  Apparently, the Post had managed--over the union's initial objections--to obtain a fairly broad clause allowing it flexibility in job-assignments (the union got some job security promises in return).  The ALJ found that the CBA language and bargaining history indicated a waiver of the union's right to bargain over the issue involved.  But these cases are very fact-intensive and the NLRB, should the Board hear the case, could go the other way. Moreover, the ALJ did find that the Post had unlawfully refused to provide the union information relevant to its representation of unit employees.

One of the interesting aspects of this case is the increasing number of media outlets that a large company like the Washington Post is associated with.  It's not surprising that the Post would want to use employees for multiple outlets, but this case is a reminder that such flexibility also raises potential problems under the NLRA. 

Hat Tip:  Dennis Walsh

-JH

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