NLRB charges GateHouse with labor law violations at Rockford Register Star

The National Labor Relations Board has charged GateHouse Media Illinois Holdings Inc. with multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act for management actions at the Rockford Register Star.

The NLRB investigated a complaint filed by the United Media Guild and found merit on several points:

  • GateHouse retaliated against our members after the UMG objected to unilateral changes to how photographers were to be scheduled. By labor law fixed on all labor posters, such changes must be negotiated due to the status quo protections for working conditions during a initial contract negotiation. When the UMG would not agree to the changes, the NLRB charged that the newspaper “threatened employees and announced that it would change its policy regarding the ability of employees to alter schedules.”
  • GateHouse took that action in a letter to employees, the NLRB charged, “in order to undermine the (UMG)’s status as the employees’ bargaining representative.”
  • At the bargaining table GateHouse subsequently proposed that it have the right to outsource all photography-related work. The NLRB charged the company with doing so “because the employees . . . formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees in these activities.”
  • By doing so, GateHouse “has failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the Unit.”

The NLRB proposed remedies to settle these charges, but GateHouse Media declined. A company that steadfastly refuses to end its seven-year wage freeze will have no trouble running up a big legal bill defending itself in this case.

A hearing on these charges is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. in Peoria.

In the meantime, the NLRB will begin investigating a new UMG complaint about GateHouse actions in Rockford. In our filing we argue that the newspaper has twice singled out unit chair Max Gersh for disciplinary action because of his union activities.