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Management appeals NLRB decision


Management at the Providence Journal is pursuing a two-track strategy, appealing a September ruling by a National Labor Relations Board judge while also taking part in ongoing off-the-record discussions with the Providence Newspaper Guild.

NLRB Judge William G. Kocol ruled September 12 that the Journal Company took part in a series of unfair labor practices against the Guild (see "NLRB judge rules in Guild's favor," This just in, News, September 20). According to Guild administrator Tim Schick, the Journal has appealed every ruling against it in Kocol's decision, as well as each remedy imposed by the judge, including the payment of millions of dollars in estimated back pay and medical costs.

Lawyer Richard A. Perras of Edwards & Angell, who has helped to represent the Journal before the NLRB, didn't return a call seeking comment.

Although the Journal's appeal stays the implementation of Kocol's ruling, Schick says he's fairly confident the Guild will ultimately prevail before the NLRB. "It's just a question of time," he says. "The company's strategy all along has not so much been to win on the merits, but to win by stalling. I think we've demonstrated to them that we're willing to wait for contract proposals to be right or for us to get the results through litigation. We have a lot more patience than the company gave us credit for."

Members of the Guild, which represents close to 500 reporters, advertising workers, and other employees at the Journal, have been working without a contract since early 2000.

A backlog of cases could begin to clear after the Senate recently confirmed a five-member NLRB panel that includes four new members, Schick says, but the appeal still might not be resolved for several years. But even with the Bush Administration in power, Schick isn't concerned that the Guild will be at a disadvantage when the Washington panel considers the issue. "The issues that they'll be looking at in this case are very basic labor law," he says. "There are no cutting edge issues. I think even a conservative panel will sustain most, if not all of the findings, against the Journal."

Meanwhile, after three off-the-record sessions, Guild and management representatives were scheduled to continue the talks this week and in December.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis[a]

Issue Date: November 29 - December 5, 2002