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Published: Saturday, 12/23/2006

NLRB office says Blade lockout illegal

The National Labor Relations Board s regional office in Cleveland said yesterday it has concluded that The Blade s lockout of more than 200 unionized workers is illegal.

The finding was told by phone to the company but has not been put into a formal

complaint, said Allen Binstock, a supervisory attorney for the agency. The paper, he said, can either end the lockout and resume serious contract negotiations or the agency will issue a formal written complaint before Dec. 31.

Union members were pleased, but company spokesman Luann Sharp said the

paper hasn t been notified in detail about the findings. She said, We ve not done anything wrong. If necessary, she said, the paper will litigate an agency complaint.

If that happens, the issue will be scheduled for a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge, and the agency could sue the paper. A dissatisfied party

can appeal the administrative judge s decision to the full labor board in Washington and ultimately to federal court.

Most of the eight union contracts with The Blade expired in March. The paper, suffering financially, has tried to obtain concessions on wages and other issues.

One union reached a new pact, but the paper locked out fi ve production unions in

August to try to stimulate bargaining.

The paper is using temporary replacement workers.

No bargaining has occurred in more than a month.

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