- UPDATE (Sept. 20, 1:10 p.m.): After this item was posted, a person mentioned in the story, John Bowman, disputed how his remarks were reported by the East Bay Express. The Express has since changed its story. See note in bold face at the end.
The Guild has filed another charge with the National Labor Relations Board against MediaNews in the wake of the company’s decision to no longer recognize the union as the representative of its newsroom employees in the East Bay. According to the East Bay Express, the allegation this time is that two top editors instructed mid-level editors to lie to reporters and photographers at the Oakland Tribune and other ANG papers in an attempt to get the workers to decertify the union.
John Bowman, who resigned in May as editor of the San Mateo County Times, a sister paper of the Trib, told the Express that the two top-level editors told him and other editors that they should tell their reporters that Trib newsroom employees had lower salaries than those at the CoCo Times because they were union members and that the union contract prohibited raises. Both instructions, according to Bowman and top union officials, were completely false. Bowman identified the two top level editors as Kevin Keane and Pete Wevurski.
The Express said Keane did not immediately return a phone call, but Wevurski denied Bowman’s allegations. Wevurski also said he and Keane told editors that if union issues were to come up during informal talks with reporters and photographers that they should tell them that semi-annual raises mandated by the union contract forced the company to reduce what was available for merit-based increases.
The East Bay Express story was written by Robert Gammon, who discloses that he is a former union official at the Tribune and helped negotiate the union contract.
- NOTE: After the Press Club posted this item, Bowman submitted an online comment to the East Bay Express, objecting to how Gammon reported his comments. Bowman wrote, “While I identified Pete Wevurski has one of the two top editors at the meetings in question, I never said that he personally said any of the things alleged in the story. Also, we were told to strongly imply, not flat out state, that CC Times staffers made more than ANG staffers because ANG had a union while the Times did not.”
Gammon said that after interviewing Bowman again, he changed his online report to read the way it does now. The headline was also softened from saying “Claim: Oakland Tribune Editors Told to Lie to Reporters” to “Oakland Tribune Editors Allegedly Told to Trick Reporters.”