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 America, NewsGuild-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.