Off the Beat
During last fall's newspaper strike, all 11 full-time San Francisco Chronicle bureau correspondents walked out in support of their striking colleagues. The correspondents' blow for solidarity backfired: As contract laborers, they had no union protection and weren't reinstated after the strike. After rejecting a settlement offer of a few thousand dollars and no rehire benefits, the reporters will begin arbitration with management March 17. “At issue is whether or not these people are employees,” says Jim Eggleston, the correspondents' attorney. “They were paid on a daily basis; they had regular beats and regular assignments …. Essentially the Chronicle was running a sham independent-contracting scheme.” The arbitration hearing stems from a National Labor Relations Board complaint filed last spring. In February, Eggleston filed a second NLRB complaint charging the Chronicle with unlawfully retaliating against the 11 correspondents.
Lick That Label
California Secretary of State Bill Jones is scrambling to new heights of damage control since his office sent a letter to the state capital's lesbian and gay newspaper, Mom Guess What, asking editors to “remove us from your mailing list.” Jones spokeswoman Shirley Washington says the intent was to transfer the mailing label to Jones from Tony Miller, the acting secretary of state Jones defeated last November. But the letter didn't say squat about that. Pressed for details, Washington couldn't explain the connection between canceling the subscription and expecting to receive the paper. She admits, “There were many publications the secretary wasn't interested in receiving anymore,” and that not all publications — such as the Sacramento Bee — were sent the same letter as MGW. But, she stresses, “We'd be more than happy to receive Mom Guess What and we told the paper just that.” Not so, says MGW Publisher and Editor Linda Birner: “They haven't called us.” Not surprisingly, Birner is less than convinced by the tortured explanations coming from Jones' office. “They're just trying to cover up,” she says.
George Cothran, Ashley Craddock