20 May 2009
Teamsters accuse Transcontinental of union busting
FREMONT,CA—Teamsters Local 853, which represents press workers in Northern California, is accusing Transcontinental of union busting at its soon-to-be-completed $200 million printing plant in Fremont, California.

In 2006, Transcontinental signed a deal to print the San Francisco Chronicle—a paper reportedly in danger of closing—worth $1 billion over 15 years. That contract is scheduled to begin in June of this year, when the plant opens.

Rome Aloise, secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 853, says Transcontinental is screening out pro-union workers during the hiring process. No Chronicle press operators have been employed by Transcontinental, he said, and the printer has been holding anti-union meetings with those already hired. “We’ve got people working in there that [Transcontinental doesn’t] know are union people, so we know exactly what’s going on inside,” Aloise said. “They’re violating U.S. federal law and at some point it’s going to explode on them.”

Ted Markle, senior vice president of the newspaper group at Transcontinental, denies all of this. Transcontinental runs both unionized and non-unionized plants across North America, he said, and employees are free to decide whether or not to band together. “We have a recruitment process that’s open for everyone,” Markle said. “Every individual has been treated as fairly as anyone else.” The first two stages of the hiring process are anonymous, Markle said, and offers of employment have gone out to at least two Chronicle employees.

Transcontinental is looking “for a new kind of [employee],” Markle said. “Something different from what the printing industry is used to… The flexibility of our workforce and a high level of involvement in the development of this process is what we’re looking for.” Employees that can handle both management and production duties are the most attractive to Transcontinental,” Markle added.

Aloise, though, is having none of it. “At this juncture we’re prepared for war.” A war, Aloise said, that will consist of picketing, “an onslaught of charges” filed against Transcontinental at the National Labor Relations Board, and a boycotting of companies that advertise in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Once that happens, there’s no more Chronicle and [Transcontinental] won’t have a customer,” Aloise said. “They’re playing a very serious game of chicken here.”

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