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DAILY NEWS HALF WAY TO UNIONIZATION

Employees in the production department, one of two key areas in the daily operations of the Virgin Islands Daily News, have voted for unionization, according to a labor leader.
The vote in the other area, the news department, was clouded by challenged ballots.
Under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board, a collective bargaining election was held for Daily News workers on St. Thomas Tuesday and on St. Croix Thursday. United Steelworkers President Randolph Allen released the results of the balloting late Thursday.
"In the production department, 39 of 53 eligible ballots were cast," Allen said. "Of that number, 30 voted to unionize, one staff member was opposed and there were eight challenged ballots."
In the news department, 24 employees were eligible to vote, Allen said. Eleven of them voted against union representation, nine voted for the union, and three ballots were challenged.
Any of the three parties to the election—the newspaper, the union, and the NLRB—can challenge ballots. Normal procedure then is for the NLRB to decide on an individual basis which, if any, of the challenged ballots should be counted.
For a union to win this kind of election, a bare majority of workers in a bargaining unit must cast their ballots for the union. The company wins in the event of a tie. The production department and the news department were separate bargaining units in the balloting.
Allen was optimistic the final outcome in the news department vote also would favor his union.
"The three challenged ballots are from those employees who want to be in the union," he said Thursday evening. His claim could not be confirmed.
The next step, according to Allen, will be for the employees to agree on terms of contracts to be sumitted to Daily News management.
"This will be a proposal of sorts," Allen said.
The union leader also threatened to file charges of unfair labor practices against the Daily News for firing reporter Will Jones last weekend. Allen accused the newspaper of terminating Jones to intimidate other reporters and editors into voting against unionization. Calling it a personnel matter, the newspaper has refused to comment on Jones' forced departure.
But Daily News Editor J. Lowe Davis confirmed she told her news staff well in advance of the election that she would be "extremely uncomfortable" if they were to become members of the Steelworkers. Her point was, she said, that the reporters could not objectively cover the government, in which there are many members of that union.

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