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October 28, 2005

NLRB Strips Newspaper Carriers of Right to Form Unions

Following recent decisions stripping graduate student employees and many disabled workers of union rights, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that newspaper carriers could be fired at will if they tried to organize a union:

Concerned with their meager earnings and a lack of health benefits, the newspaper carriers who haul and deliver the St. Joseph News-Press of St. Joseph, MO, sought to form a union. In October 1999, the carriers contacted the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) to help them obtain union representation. Soon after the effort began, the St. Joseph News-Press fired two pro-union carriers and cut back the work of two others, leading the IBT to file unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB.
The local NLRB administrative judge ruled in the workers' favor back in 2001, but four years later, the national labor board reversed the decision, declaring the carriers "independent contractors" and therefore outside the protections of labor law.

As the dissenting member of the board pointed out, carriers are completely economically dependent on the newspaper companies that employ them, so the legal fiction of them "running their own businesses" is just a loophole to undermine labor rights.

Just one more brick in the wall of workers being denied legal rights on any pretext rightwing courts or this NLRB can find.

Posted by Nathan at October 28, 2005 06:34 AM