Can newspaper management strongly oppose unionization of its workforce?
Question: In August 2016, the NewsGuild-CWA (formerly known as The Newspaper Guild) unionized the newsroom at the Lakeland Ledger by a vote of 22 to 3. On Sept. 15, 2016, the same union organized the newsroom at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by a vote of 22 to 16. Is it lawful for newspaper management to strongly oppose the unionization of its workforce?
Answer: Absolutely yes! This right is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, and by §8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act. As the U.S. Court of Appeals has stated in one of its decisions, "Every Employer has a perfect right to be opposed to a labor union."
A newspaper employer's only hope of maintaining a union-free environment is to develop a communications strategy and vigorously oppose the process with a well-organized campaign.
Note: Nothing in this SNPA Legal Hotline Q&A should be relied upon as legal advice in any particular matter.
L. Michael Zinser is the founding partner of The Zinser Law Firm in Nashville, Tenn. The firm, which has a heavy concentration of clients in communications media, represents management in the area of labor and employment. Zinser can be reached at (615) 244-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNPA's free Legal Hotline for members – (844) 804-2016 – is designed to assist newspapers with a broad range of legal issues. Hotline attorneys and CPAs will tackle questions about circulation, independent contractors, labor and employment law, taxes, finances and accounting, employment benefits, open records, libel and privacy, and other issues newspapers encounter.
The attorneys and CPAs who will take calls from SNPA member newspapers are the best in the business: The Bussian Law Firm PLLC, Fisher & Phillips, Way, Ray, Shelton & Co., P.C. and The Zinser Law Firm.