Decade IATSE Contract Talks With East Coast Fox News Stations Get ‘Hot’ – Deadline
In one of the longest contract negotiations ever, IATSE and Fox TV in New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC were unable to reach a new deal after more than 10 years of intermittent negotiations. “Our membership has not had a raise since 2006,” said Nick Kroudis, sales agent for IATSE Local 794, which represents approximately 100 members employed at WNYW-TV in New York City.
“Negotiations for a successor deal have been underway for over a decade now, starting in September 2011,” IATSE said in an update to its members. “So far, the give-and-take required for productive negotiations have not been proportionate and the company has refused to give up on its demands to create a more available workforce. In this, the company turns its back on 75 years of stable working conditions and productive union-management relations. “
A spokesperson for Fox Television Stations told Deadline: “We are currently in private discussions with IATSE and have always negotiated in good faith and will continue to do so.”
The ten-year negotiations involve two IATSE locals – Local 794 in New York and Local 819 in DC – and four Fox television stations: WNYW; WTTG and WDCA in DC; and WWOR in New Jersey. The locals represent the stations’ behind-the-scenes news teams, including studio camera operators, photographers, editors, technical directors, broadcast maintenance engineers and satellite operations engineers.
The stalemate reached a boiling point this week when union and station representatives entered into a “heated exchange” over the deal the stations proposed on November 16, which includes a 7% pay hike. the first year and pay increases of 2% in each of the second and third years of his proposed contract.
“Although the company’s proposals contain the highest wage increases and pension benefits,” says IATSE, “workers fear this is just a ‘sugar plan’, intentionally diverting attention from provisions that would allow the company to erode the long-term bargaining status of the union. and treating unionized broadcast workers as disposables. These provisions include:
• Discharge collective bargaining topics into company manuals and policies which may change at any time and deprive the union of its legal right to negotiate on these policies
• Enable management to replace unionized broadcast workers by allowing inexperienced and non-unionized workers to operate, repair and / or maintain broadcast and technical equipment.
• Allow the company to put workers to the curb in times of crisis (for example, the Covid-19 pandemic) with excessively permissive force majeure language essentially leaving the company off the hook with respect to its contractual obligations
• Reduce vacation time while scheduling excessive overtime at the discretion of the Company
• Divide workers into complicated new seniority lists to facilitate the dismissal of long-term employees
“Following the presentation of these concerns in a heated exchange, the company has continued to assert on several occasions that the overall proposal of 11/16 is fair and generous in terms of improvements to the conditions of employment. employment of bargaining unit employees. “
The stations have made numerous deals with other unions over the past few years and have paid medical premiums for their IATSE members throughout 2021, but Local 794 says on its website that “we all know that they are not union friendly at all and would love to see all unions disappear… They would get rid of us all in the blink of an eye if the opportunity presented itself.
In a July letter to Lew Leone, general manager of WNYW, the sales agent for Local 794 Kroudis wrote:
“We have been without an increase in the cost of living and without fair wages for 15 years. 15 years old. Something that no one at this station has had to endure. This group of dedicated employees was called upon in 2008 to help the Station during the economic crisis and pay it, among other financial concessions, 5% of its salaries. These employees were asked to take a giant leap, which no other employee asked for, and they complied. And we did so with the confidence that when the company emerges from this economic crisis and is back in good financial health, this group of employees will be back on its feet. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Not even close.
“We know full well that wages are a matter of negotiation. However, it goes beyond negotiation. It is about decency, recognition and fair treatment of your employees. No one, no matter how difficult and how long the negotiations, should have to endure this. It’s cruel, downright humiliating and insulting.
“What have we done wrong? What wrong have we done to this Station? Are we less deserving employees than everyone else? We have done nothing less than show up to work every day and d “To carry out our work to the highest technical standard possible. And we continue to make sure that WNYW / WWOR is the best station in the New York market.
“We are simply asking for fairness for a group that has realized and met all the challenges and needs presented by the company. We have adapted to all the new technologies which, according to the station, would make it more competitive. We have provided quality work at all your major social, political and sporting events of great magnitude. This station did not miss a day of broadcasting during this entire Covid pandemic. Our commitment to providing you with quality work in these unprecedented times is exceptional, when you realize that our security is threatened not only by the virus, but by those who now view the media as the enemy.
The IATSE, meanwhile, said its bargaining committee “will continue its determination to secure the best possible contract for broadcast workers in Locals 794 and 819, and will continue to use the tactics necessary to make it happen.” .