More than four years after narrowly voting to join a union in a disputed election, workers at the Chinese Daily News on Thursday decided overwhelmingly not to unionize.

The 92-52 vote against unionizing was a major victory for the Monterey Park-based newspaper, the largest Chinese-language daily in the U.S., and a setback for the Communications Workers of America's attempts to bring ethnic media under the union umbrella.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, Chinese Daily News workers cast 144 valid ballots in all-day voting Thursday, with 12 of the ballots discarded as invalid because they came from ineligible voters.

Although the 40-vote margin significantly exceeds the number of discarded ballots, the Communications Workers of America could still challenge the election if it believes the voting process was tainted.

Thomas A. Lenz, an attorney for the Taiwan-based company that owns the Chinese Daily News, said the paper's publishers were pleased with the outcome, which caps nearly five years of union-organizing efforts.

Communications Workers of America spokeswoman Candace Johnson said the union hasn't ruled out a challenge to Thursday's election and will pursue complaints with the NRLB about the process leading up to the vote.

"We're going to continue to advocate for the rights of workers to organize," Johnson said.

Complaining of arbitrary job cuts and forced overtime, union activists began to organize workers at the Chinese Daily News at the beginning of 2001. In March of that year, workers voted 78-63 in favor of the union, but newspaper management filed a formal complaint with the NLRB alleging that a union-sympathetic supervisor had tainted the election.

While the NLRB investigated the management's allegations and ordered a new election, the paper's publishers attempted to squelch support for the union by retaliating against union supporters, the Communications Workers of America has alleged. The Chinese Daily News disputed that allegation, accusing the union of bombarding the NLRB with frivolous complaints against management.

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