Xpress Needs a Union

Mountain Xpress workers fight for our rights

Category: Uncategorized

Important updates on union drive at Mountain Xpress

Recent weeks have seen a few important developments in the ongoing union fight at Mountain Xpress:

1) Mountain Xpress’ management has agreed to the National Labor Relations Board’s requirements that it must remove or overhaul coercive employee rules put in place in December and affirm the right of all employees to disagree with management without threat, organize and push for better working conditions. We’re glad these unjust rules will be a thing of the past and hope this will serve as a reminder that the rights of workers can’t be ignored.

Read the settlement agreement here. Here’s the notice Xpress will post for its employees.

2) The regional office of the NLRB has declined to issue a complaint about retaliation against reporter David Forbes for his union activities, culminating in his April termination. After a review of the regional office’s rationale, Communications Workers of America counsel disagree, and have appealed the decision.

3) Xpress management agreed to offer a financial settlement to photographer Max Cooper after an NLRB investigation determined in February that Xpress violated federal labor laws when terminating him for protected activities.

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Union picket of Mountain Xpress May 2

The public is invited to join a picket organized by Communications Workers of America Local 3601 to support Mountain Xpress workers in their fight for better conditions, protest the firings of photographer Max Cooper and reporter David Forbes and call for respect for workers’ rights around Asheville. The picket is May 2 at 4 p.m. outside Xpress’ offices at 2 Wall St. in downtown Asheville.

I have been fired from Mountain Xpress

I have been fired from Mountain Xpress. On April 17, I received a letter in my mailbox notifying me that I was terminated from my job as senior news reporter.

I had been suspended since April 4, following efforts to push for a union at Xpress and bring to light major issues with ethics and working conditions. This includes the Communications Workers of America filing a National Labor Relations Board charge on April 2 concerning ongoing retaliation.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the union drive. It is far from over.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the many people in Asheville who have supported my work, helping to inform the public for nearly seven years as a reporter at Xpress.

I have no regrets, and hope to continue serving and informing the community in whatever way I can.

This is, at its heart, an amazing city. We all deserve better.

—David Forbes

Fighting for justice: NLRB issues complaint against Xpress management

There’s some important news on the Mountain Xpress union drive front. After a thorough investigation, the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Xpress for the firing of photographer Max Cooper in October. The complaint (read it here if you’d like) alleges top management violated his rights through unlawful threats and interference with protected activity. For those of us who have fought for months to get justice for our friend and colleague, this is good news.

An NLRB charge also alleges that Xpress’ new, post-union drive handbook, put in place in late December, is full of “overly broad” and “coercive” rules harming our right to organize, freely associate and push for better working conditions.

The Communications Workers of AmericaNewsGuild-CWA have all been incredibly supportive in the fight for our rights.

When charges were first filed last November, we hoped the seriousness of this matter would finally prompt some reflection and attention to the workplace issues we were raising. Instead, our publisher hired Constangy Brooks and Smith, an expensive union-busting law firm. Instead of dialogue and improving conditions, the publisher cut about a week of vacation time from veteran employees without explanation.

For a glimpse of what they apparently found so threatening, here’s our union flier.

It’s worth emphasizing that Xpress’ workers, new and old, are great people. These are the actions of a small part of management. These actions run counter to everything Xpress claims to stand for. We’re fighting to make those ideals more than buzzwords.

Too often the belief in Asheville and elsewhere is that the people who make a city work are powerless, that we can lose our livelihoods due to asking basic questions or a boss’ bad mood. We often hear that’s “just the way it is” and we shouldn’t hope for better.

This is a lie. We have rights, and we have power. Things can change.

If you’re in Asheville (or anywhere in NC) and think your workplace needs a union, contact the state AFL-CIO.

To learn more about the legal rights of all workers, union or not, go here.

Thank you to everyone who’s expressed their support for our drive and for Xpress workers past and present. It means a lot, especially as one of our main reasons for working at Xpress is to serve our community and give you the newspaper you deserve. This is an amazing city, and I believe we can move towards better things.

XpressUnionFlier

  Our union flier in the Xpress breakroom

Our original union announcement

by David Forbes

This is the original union announcement that went out over social media on Nov. 8:

So a number of us at Mountain Xpress are working with Communications Workers of America to organize and address concerns about our rights and working conditions. Xpress has been blessed with a good crew, past and present, and we hope these issues can be resolved so we can move forward in a way that’s fair to everyone.

That’s all I’ll say for now. Personally, I love Asheville and hope to continue telling this city’s stories for a long time to come.