SANTA BARBARA - The Santa Barbara News-Press violated federal labor laws by firing eight workers for their protected union activities, an administrative law judge ruled in a case brought by the NLRB. The ruling by ALJ William Kocol is a major blow against billionaire heiress Wendy McCaw, whose firings, followed by the resignations of dozens of top editors and reporters, have made the News-Press the black sheep of the newspaper industry.
McCaw, heiress to a cable TV fortune, bought the News-Press in 2000. Reporters and editors claimed she had no understanding of the newspaper business and tried to censor and slant the news to benefit rich friends and celebrities in the wealthy coastal town.
Judge Kocol ordered the News-Press to rehire eight workers and pay them back wages.
The News-Press' circulation sank by more than 10 percent last year, while the local weekly reveled in rising circulation and a circus atmosphere that kept the News-Press' fight with its workers on newspaper pages around the country.