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Carrier suit against U-T begins tomorrow

Carriers say they were misclassified as independent contractors

Preliminary matters in the case of newspaper carriers suing the Union-Tribune begin tomorrow (May 24) in the Superior Court department of Judge John S. Meyer. Persons who signed contracts with the U-T as home delivery carriers beginning in 2005 say they were illegally classified as independent contractors. Alleging violations of various Labor Code provisions, they seek, among several things, unpaid regular and overtime pay, unpaid rest break and meal period compensation, and reimbursement of expenses, including mileage. Former owners Copley Press and Platinum Equity are named along with the San Diego Union-Tribune LLC. The carriers say they were required to provide their own vehicles, and therefore incurred losses, and that the U-T routinely made deductions from paychecks for complaints they received for damaged and wet papers, and the like. For these reasons and many others, the U-T was actually the employer, and the carriers were not independent contractors under California law, they charge.

The suit might not be small change. The law firm filing it, Callahan & Blaine of Santa Ana, earlier sued the Orange County Register for similar reasons. There was a $38 million settlement, but the parent company, Freedom Communications, filed for bankruptcy. Eventually, the case was settled for $30 million.

Another suit has been filed against the U-T. One George Ronis on May 17 brought what he hopes to be a class action suit against the media company. Ronis claims that he made a cell phone call to the U-T. After he revealed what he says was sensitive financial information, he asked if the call was being recorded and was told it was. He wants damages and injunctive relief.

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Preliminary matters in the case of newspaper carriers suing the Union-Tribune begin tomorrow (May 24) in the Superior Court department of Judge John S. Meyer. Persons who signed contracts with the U-T as home delivery carriers beginning in 2005 say they were illegally classified as independent contractors. Alleging violations of various Labor Code provisions, they seek, among several things, unpaid regular and overtime pay, unpaid rest break and meal period compensation, and reimbursement of expenses, including mileage. Former owners Copley Press and Platinum Equity are named along with the San Diego Union-Tribune LLC. The carriers say they were required to provide their own vehicles, and therefore incurred losses, and that the U-T routinely made deductions from paychecks for complaints they received for damaged and wet papers, and the like. For these reasons and many others, the U-T was actually the employer, and the carriers were not independent contractors under California law, they charge.

The suit might not be small change. The law firm filing it, Callahan & Blaine of Santa Ana, earlier sued the Orange County Register for similar reasons. There was a $38 million settlement, but the parent company, Freedom Communications, filed for bankruptcy. Eventually, the case was settled for $30 million.

Another suit has been filed against the U-T. One George Ronis on May 17 brought what he hopes to be a class action suit against the media company. Ronis claims that he made a cell phone call to the U-T. After he revealed what he says was sensitive financial information, he asked if the call was being recorded and was told it was. He wants damages and injunctive relief.

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Comments
13

I wonder how much of the $30 million dollar settlement went to the lawyers and how much went to the carriers ( not that they deserved it in my opinion).I also laughed out loud ( really I did) upon reading about Mr. Ronis and his expectation of privacy while on his cell phone. He says he wants damages and injunctive relief. Come on now, what he really wants is a substantial amount of money for being a moron. As far as his hopes to convert his lawsuit to a class action affair, I think he may have problems rounding up enough folks idiotic enough to provide anyone sensitive info on a wireless device then expect to be compensated for it.

May 23, 2013

jemsd: Lawyers generally get one-third or more in such cases. I agree the Ronis suit sounds fatuous. I wasn't even going to run anything about it until I learned of the carrier suit, and decided to tack it on the end. Best, Don Bauder

May 23, 2013

I hope the carriers are successful with their suit. It's about time these workers were treated like adults. These are not kids on bicycles anymore and they should not be treated like second-class citizens. Waiters and waitresses do not have their pay docked if the customer complains about the food. Their tip may be short, but their puny paycheck does not take the hit. Also, what job requires one to use their car routinely in the course of their work and not pay mileage? Newspapers have been treating these folks like sub-class for too long. It's time.

May 23, 2013

Javajoe25: The gravamen is the charge that the U-T violated the California Labor and California Wage Orders by improperly categorizing the carriers as independent contractors when as a matter of law they are employees. Best, Don Bauder

May 23, 2013

If the paper paid the carriers better, it would get better carriers. Too often I've found that the carrier cannot or does not follow instructions about vacation holds and delayed delivery. Then there's the carrier who throws our paper into the neighbor's driveway, and it takes three or four calls/emails to get it correct. Over the years the delivery of the UT and its precursor Tribune has been generally lackadaisical and hit-or-miss. I wonder how many subscribers were lost when they simply got burned out dealing with delivery issues. And how much larger would the UT circulation now be if the delivery had been any sort of priority for Copley for the past many decades?

May 23, 2013

Visduh: Of course, you have to determine where the blame lies. If your paper lands in your neighbor's driveway continuously, you complain, and it continues, the fault may lie with the U-T, not the carrier. And you don't always know whom to blame for sloppy vacation holds and delayed deliveries. It could be the U-T's internal system or carrier error. Best, Don Bauder

May 23, 2013

COPLEY SELLS ANOTHER PROPERTY: A sale is pending on a home at 7648 Ivanhoe Ave., La Jolla, according to Trulia.com. It is near the former Copley headquarters. Price is listed as $795,000. Copley Press has been disposing of properties formerly owned by the company and its owner, the late David Copley. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2013

This is another proof that Manchester's goal in life is to create an indentured servitude class in San Diego so his kind can maximize their profits regardless of how many people suffer, he is destroying quality of life in San Diego for everyone below his social class. We are returning to the days of the Athenian oligarchs.

The people who deliver my papers are excellent and provide a much superior service compared to Manchester's sycophantic editorial staff that use the Goebbels Manual of Style to lie with impunity so the U-T reads more like Der Sturmer every day with editorials on the editorial page and the front page to spread GOP culture of hate in our society and destroy two party democracy.

May 24, 2013

Anon92107: Maybe there should be a switcheroo. The news and editorial staffs will move to circulation, and the circulation people move into the news/editorial writing slots. In the 30 years I wrote for the U-T, many business executives said the paper would be better off if I were delivering it, not writing for it. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2013

Don, I want to make two things perfectly clear:

  1. I DO NOT WANT you to deliver my newspaper.

  2. I DO WANT you to continue being the best investigative reporter that San Diego has today, you are the one newsperson with the experience, intelligence and integrity to motivate us to fix our problems in San Diego before Pope Manchester and his sycophants completely destroy quality of life in San Diego for our newest and future generations.

May 24, 2013

Anon92107. I delivered papers once. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. Got cheated by the guy who collected the money from us paperboys. Best, Don Bauder

May 24, 2013

If the UT should prevail in State Court, Federal Court would likely declare the arrangement illegal under anti sharecropping laws. These arrangements grow in number by the year, and may be behind the so called surge in small business over the past twenty years. Trouble is, there are plenty of friends for business in high places that have no interest in enforcing labor laws. They are enabled by employees without green cards, owing child support, or wanted by the law. Another poster child for this abuse was recently covered by The Reader. www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/may/15/citylights2-ben-huesos-taxi-cab-conflict/#comments In fairness, the UT had a decent record in following labor laws for most of it's employees, and was considered a good employer.

May 28, 2013

Psycholizard: You are right: powerful people with well-greased lobbying machines and heavy political connections do not want labor laws upheld. Those people are likely to prevail in today's widespread corruption and climate of opinion. In re U-T under Copley regime: there are two sides to that. Company hated unions and dealt with them brutally. But Copley had generous retirement program -- both defined benefit and defined contribution, and generally stayed within the law on labor matters. Best, Don Bauder

May 28, 2013

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