Monday, March 25, 2013

NABET-CWA and ABC-Disney Reach Tentative Agreement


NABET-CWA/ABC-Disney Negotiations


March 25, 2013: Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the labor negotiations between ABC Inc. and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA):

"I am pleased to announce that at the culmination of a marathon bargaining session conducted under my auspices, the parties have reached a comprehensive initial Memorandum of Agreement."

"The Agreement is subject to union ratification, but it represents a major step toward the successful completion of long and difficult negotiations."  

Additionally, the NABET-CWA Network Negotiating Committee is reporting the following:

A tentative agreement has been reached with ABC-Disney on a new four year contract to replace the Master Agreement which expired on March 31, 2011. This contract offer is the result of a fifteen hour mediation session conducted on March 22, 2013 at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. That mediation session was led by National FMCS Director George H. Cohen.

The new contract, when ratified, will cover approximately 2500 staff and daily hire employees working as broadcast technicians, telecommunications specialists, news writers, producers, desk assistants, publicists, and plant maintenance personnel at various Company Network and TV station operations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. The contract includes ABC news and entertainment programs and ESPN sports broadcasts airing on ABC. 

Nationally syndicated talk shows “Katie” and “Live with Kelly and Michael”, as well as the ESPN programs “Pardon the Interruption”, “Around the Horn”, and “Highly Questionable” are also covered by this agreement. Additionally, this new contract establishes NABET-CWA’s jurisdiction for ABC provided content for the newly launched “Fusion” cable news channel, a joint venture between ABC-Disney and Univision.

While complete details of the contract offer will be made available within the next few days, this package contains a number of improvements from ABC’s stated “Last, Best and Final” offer. 

These improvements include enhancements in the areas of economics, jurisdiction, and retirement benefits for staff and daily hire employees. 

The contract offer was also improved to add an additional year of security to the agreement, setting a new expiration date of March 31, 2017, as well as an additional wage increase. 

The new contract also requires early negotiations for the next Master Agreement, commencing by October 1, 2016, with automatic involvement of Federal Mediators if a successor contract is not reached by March 1, 2017.

The wage offer contains a total of 9% (up from 6.5%) in wage increases over the next four years (2.5%, 2.0%, 2.0%, and 2.5%) effective March 30, 2013, if the offer is ratified by May 17, 2013.

NABET-CWA Locals 16 (New York), 31 (Washington, D.C.), 41 (Chicago), 51 (San Francisco) and 57 (Los Angeles) will be conducting membership meetings and providing further information on this contract offer during the ratification process.

In the meantime, we remind you to ignore all rumors. All official updates will be delivered on the Sector website (, on Local websites, hotlines, and e-mail lists.
In Solidarity,

NABET-CWA Network Negotiating Committee

NABET-CWA • 501 3rd Street NW • Washington, DC 20001 • 202-434-1100

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pension freeze tops S&P plan to create a worse workplace

On the first day of contract talks, management negotiators last week presented the Guild with a shopping list of concessionary proposals that would severely damage employees’ financial health and make S&P a worse place to work. Topping the list, which was presented on March 12, is a freeze of the pension plan. But there are lots of other demands, ranging from cuts in our pay scale to weaker employment security. Here’s the list.

FREEZE THE PENSION – Management proposed freezing the defined benefit pension plan for Guild-covered employees and combining it with its already frozen plan for non-Guild S&P employees. Under such a move, employees’ retirement benefits are generally based only on their years of service up to the point of the freeze. They would not accrue any further service credit.

As a consolation prize, management proposed increasing the current company contribution to the 401(k) plan to 6 percent from 4.5 percent. That would not even come close to replacing the money the company currently contributes to the pension plan for Guild-covered employees.

Besides the huge reduction in member retirement benefits that would result from trading the pension plan for a 1.5 percentage-point increase in company 401(k) contributions, combining the over-funded Guild pension plan with the frozen non-Guild plan, which is underfunded, would put Guild members into a weaker plan and would in effect use Guild members’ money to subsidize managers’ retirement benefits.

CUT STARTING PAY – Management negotiators proposed lowering starting salaries for Ratings Analysts to $75,000 a year from $84,000 and starting pay for Rating Specialists to $85,000 from $106,000, citing falling financial sector salaries.

They also proposed eliminating the use of experience credit to determine starting pay, which would leave it entirely at management’s discretion. Since annual “step-ups” to higher pay within job groups were eliminated in a previous contract, employees have no assurance of ever reaching the top scale in their positions. Indeed, many haven’t.

ELIMINATE VACATION CARRYOVER - Management wants to eliminate vacation carryover, with any unused vacation days being forfeited. Only a few specific exceptions would be allowed.

USE PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS FOR DISCIPLINE AND TERMINATION – Management wants to switch from the current performance evaluation system for Guild-represented employees to one used for nonunion S&P employees. And, it wants to be able to use these evaluations as a basis for discipline and as evidence in arbitration proceedings.

DENY SEVERANCE PAY - Management proposes to deny severance to employees who “fail to meet performance standards.” Currently, severance is withheld only from employees terminated for dishonesty or willful gross neglect of duty.

NO MORE BUMPING RIGHTS - Management asked that there be no bumping rights going forward. It also wants laid-off employees to give up their recall rights as a condition for getting severance.

REDUCE REQUIRED TRAINING – For Guild-represented employees whose job functions change due to a reduction in force, management wants to cut the six-month retraining period to 30 days.

KEEP TEMPS FOR A FULL YEAR - Finally, management proposed extending the use of temporary employees to a year from six months.

The Guild negotiating committee is reviewing the results of the recently circulated member survey and is preparing proposals on job security, pay, retirement, training, telecommuting and more.

While we are still reviewing management’s proposals, we will fight to hold the line against any assaults on our working conditions and will work hard to win a fair contract with fair pay increases. Our next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday.