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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 7, 2022


A month after a collective bargaining election at the Virgin Islands Daily News, there is still no official word as to whether the territory’s largest news organization is unionized.
The results have yet to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board because of unresolved challenges and charges of unfair labor practices.
Those issues must be decided by the end of February, according to William J. Rivera, the NLRB representative in Puerto Rico who is assigned to the case. But, he said Wednesday, he has been too busy with another case even to begin the investigation into the challenges and charges.
Daily News employees were divided into two units for the vote – basically the production/operations (Unit A) and news (Unit B) staffs.
The vote in Unit A was 30-1 in favor of joining the United Steelworkers of America, Rivera said. Just 31 of the 52 people eligible to vote cast ballots. Eight of the ballots were challenged, but because of the numbers, they did not effect the outcome.
Nevertheless, even the results of the Unit A vote have not been certified, Rivera said, because the NLRB must first rule on the challenges and charges stemming from the vote in the news department.
In that area, 24 people were eligible to vote. Nine voted for the union and 11 voted against. The NLRB is challenging three ballots cast by individuals whose names were not on the list of eligible employees provided by Daily News management, Rivera said.
Then there are two charges of unfair labor practices which the Steelworkers leveled against management. One involves photographer Gary McCracken, who had given notice of his resignation, effective in 30 days. The Daily News shortened the time to approximately two weeks, Rivera said, effectively removing the photographer from the employee rolls before the election.
Rivera noted that it is generally an employer’s right to shorten a resignation notice, but said that in this instance the issue is motivation: Did management get rid of McCracken before the election because they knew he supported unionization?
The other charge involves former reporter Will Jones, who was terminated four days before the election. Again, Rivera said, the issue is motivation: Was Jones fired because he supported the union?

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