A Peek Into the Oregonian Publisher’s Union-Busting Past

This morning, the Oregonian’s editorial board threw their support behind the latest anti-union initiative funded by Nevada multimillionaire Loren Parks.

antiunioncabalThe anti-union efforts from the Oregonian shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed the career of publisher N. Christian Anderson III (who’s also on the board of directors of the Portland Business Alliance).

A peek into Anderson’s past shows his long-standing animosity toward unionization.

You probably already saw this coming from a mile away—but guess how Anderson responded to a pressroom unionization effort when he was the publisher of the Orange County Register? By hiring one of the nation’s most notorious union-busting firms to run an intimidation campaign against the workers.

Among the tactics allegedly employed in the union-busting effort: physical assault, vandalized cars, mandatory anti-union meetings, and threats of termination and pay cuts.

From the May 3, 2001 issue of the OC Weekly, Orange County’s alternative news weekly:

Although Register officials from Anderson on down did their part, it was the Burke Group who allegedly orchestrated the anti-union campaign that terrorized the pressroom. All but one worker refused to be mentioned by name, claiming they would face retaliation–as in “termination,” they said–if they spoke out.

According to [pressroom worker Juan] Oyarzabal, Anderson himself called a conference of all the press workers and urged them not to vote for the union.

Five months later, Anderson blocked another union organizing effort in the pressroom by firing 41 of the pressroom employees, guaranteeing that they wouldn’t be able to vote.

Here’s more from the OC Weekly:

Having just learned that Local 404 of the Graphic Communications Union had withdrawn its petition to unionize about 100 of his pressroom “associates,” Anderson typed this e-mail to his staff:

“The withdrawal of this petition is a testament to a lot of hard and outstanding work by a lot of our colleagues,” Anderson wrote, thanking several Register officials by name. “All these people changed a lot of minds over the past few weeks, and they did it professionally and passionately.”

Perhaps Anderson was lauding the professional way a Register supervisor allegedly shoved an employee who had spoken out in favor of the union. Or perhaps it was the passionate way other union supporters allegedly found their cars vandalized in the Register’s guarded parking lot. Or maybe it was the never-ending, [anti-union] captive-audience meetings. Whatever it was, it worked.

Last year, Anderson hired Erik Lukens away from the Bend Bulletin to run the Oregonian’s editorial page. Lukens had built up a lengthy track record of right-wing diatribes at the Bulletin: anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-public schools, anti-union. We put together a five-part series looking the low-lights of his career at the Bulletin.

Based on his history, Lukens’ tenure at the Oregonian has yet to surprise us.

If today’s editorial is any indication, Anderson and Lukens are gearing up to use the Oregonian as the propaganda arm of the latest anti-union campaign.

Outraged about Anderson’s right-wing agenda for the state? Sound off with a Letter to the Editor here.

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