The union election in the transportation department at the Fresno Bee

by Mike Rhodes clr2@igc.apc.org

Transportation department employees who were struggling to unionize the
transportation department at The Fresno Bee lost their October 23
election.  The vote was 39-28 with three challenged ballots.  

The problem from the start of this election was whether there existed
the basis for a fair and democratic election.  The company started by
firing the union's lead organizer, Jerry Haydostian, on the day the
election was filed for.  They continued by threatening and intimidating
other employees, telling them that they had no first amendment rights at
The Fresno Bee.  One person was told that she could not have union
literature on the premises, was not allowed to use the bulletin boards,
and that The Bee had cameras watching her every action.

The Bee hired goons to do their dirty work.  They brought in 4 full time
union busters who interrogated employees about their loyalty to the
company, showed them anti-union propaganda films, and divided workers in
whatever way they could.   At the height of the campaign the entire
transportation department was turned into a war zone in which
sophisticated techniques in psychological warfare were used.

One incident is illustrative of how the companies campaign worked.  Two
weeks before the election transportation workers where told that the
company was going to provide part time NON UNION employees health care
benefits.  The message was clear - vote against the union and you will
get health care benefits.  Vote for the union and you will get nothing. 
Never mind the fact that bribing people in an election is against the
law or that employees would be guaranteed health care benefits with a
union contract, the fact is that The Bee was able to convince enough
people to vote against their own best interests.

Where do we go from here?  That is up to CWA Local 9408 and the
transportation organizing committee who must now decide if they want to
challenge the results of the election and have a new election soon or
wait for one year and try again when conditions might be better.  We
will let our readers know what happens.

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