Monday, June 8, 2009

IBEW MSG Agreement

Letter From Greg Calvin to IBEW Local 1212 and IATSE Local 100 Members:

Today Monday June 8th at 4:30 PM IBEW will be having membership meeting at their Local office located at:

225 West 34th Street, Room 1120, New York, NY 10122.

As outlined in my last e-mail. IBEW's business Manager hasreached a tentative agreement with MSG Network for all Home and Away Feed Basketball and Hockey events at Madison Square Garden. This agreement if ratified will run until May 31, 2013.

I was able to see a copy of this tentative agreement and there was absolutely nothing negotiated for the Away Feed freelancers. The Away Feed freelancers will continue to earn what is determined by the NBA and NHL respectively under what is called their "rate card". This is a 10 hour rate with no benefit contributions. Every hour worked will accumulate for eligibility in the MSG health planbut you must accumulate 750 hours in the calender year to qualify.

Since there are only 41 Knicks, 41 Rangers and 18 Liberty games of which the networks cover around 7 of these games and the Liberty rarely have any Away Feed covering the games, you would need to work every game to qualify for the health coverage. It is impossible to qualify under the current crewing practices. In other words there are no benefit contributions for working the Away Feeds under this new agreement.

The same freelancer working the home show at MSG is going to be paid $44.97/hr for 8 hours and $67.45 for any overtime hours after 8. This would equate to $494.67 for a Home show 10 hour day compared to the$430 for an Away Feed show 10 hour day on the NBA rate card for 2008-2009 season.

Under the current IATSE agreement the Away Feeds will make $464 for a 10 hour day in the 2009-2010 season plus an added $75.27 in employer paid benefit contributions for a grand total compensation of $540.02 for 10 hours at a comparable position in the IBEW contract. If you allow for a modest raise in the 2009-2010 NBA rate card there is still a substantial difference in the rates. If you are a TD, A1, V1 or Lead EVS the gap is much larger.

Let me make something perfectly clear. Under the rate card it is the home show's networks responsibility to provide a truck and crew for a fixed rate to the Away feed. This means that MSG is paying these IATSE away feed rates for Devils and Islanders because they are the home show network.

How could IBEW not be able to negotiate anything for the Away Feeds at Madison Square Garden knowing that the same employer they are negotiating with is paying higher rates with benefits in the same market for the same Away Feed clients?

The answer is the same it has been 20 years. IBEW just doesn't care about Freelancers. They have never done anything for the freelancers in this market and this tentative agreement with MSG is more of the same.


If you are a member of IBEW Local 1212 and you have worked Away Feeds at MSG you need to show up to this meeting tomorrow and demand thatyou have a vote on the ratification of this agreement. Every freelancerin this market should vote this agreement down.

Now IBEW is going to try and scare you by saying that this means you must go on strike. That is far from the truth. If the agreement is not ratified they can open up negotiations with the employer again and since the staff and per diems at MSG were represented in these negotiations they would not even need to be present.

They could reopen the negotiations just for the Away Feeds since there was no representation for the Away Feeds in the original negotiations.

The next thing you are going to hear is that the Away Feeds had the opportunity to sit in these negotiations. That is also far from the truth. One Away Feed show freelancer expressed interest in these negotiations back in August of 2008. He was originally told he was not allowed to sit in. Then after being ignored for several months he was finally allowed to sit in on one negotiation. Then he was ignored for several more months and then contacted at 3:30 PM by the Local 1212 Business Manager and told that he forgot to tell him but the next negotiation would be the following day.

The freelancer could not make that negotiation on theshort notice and the tentative agreement was settled in that final meeting.

The freelancer told the Local 1212 Business Manager back in 2008 that the only two points the Away Feed crews were interested in negotiating were equal pay with the home show Per diem rate and benefit contributions to the Flex Plan in place of the 750 hour qualification policy.

Nothing was negotiated for the Away Feed crews. The employer was told what the Away Feed shows wanted in the one meeting that the freelancer attended but nothing was ever negotiated after that.

Please show up tomorrow and demand representation from the union you are paying dues to represent and negotiate for you. If you can't make it call the local office at (212) 354-6770 and request that you be able to vote on the ratification of this agreement.

It is now up to the freelancers to stand up for themselves under this agreement.

Greg Calvin

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