New York, NY – In recent days, Fox Television Stations, which owns local news stations including Fox 5 New York (WNYW), My 9 New Jersey (WWOR), Fox 5 DC (WWTG), and Fox 5 Plus (WDCA), settled Unfair Labor Practice Charges related to the Company’s failure to provide information in connection with a grievance filed by Television Broadcasting Studio Employees Union (IATSE) Local 794 (WNYW-WWOR).
Local 794 was seeking information as part of a formal challenge of the Company’s reclassification of a managerial employee so that he could perform bargaining unit work, a possible breach of contract terms between the two parties.
This comes as IATSE Locals 794 and 819 continue their decade-long fight to negotiate a successor agreement for the Broadcast Workers who bring local Fox News coverage to New York and Washington DC respectively.
After the NLRB issued a Complaint and shortly before a hearing, as part of the NLRB-approved settlement, Fox Television Stations was forced to hand over relevant information originally requested by Local 794 on November 12, 2020 and May 6, 2021. Additionally, Fox Television Stations was forced to post this notice at the WNYW studio in New York City and email it to every employee who works there.
In that settlement mandated notice, Fox Television Stations explicitly stated, “WE WILL NOT refuse to bargain collectively with the union by unreasonably delaying in responding to requests for information that is relevant and necessary to the Union’s performance of its duties as the collective-bargaining representative of our employees.”
However, the last time Locals 794 and 819 met with Fox Television Stations management for formal contract negotiations on December 7th 2021, the Unions submitted an information request for basic due diligence to understand the economics of the Company’s proposal which the Company characterized as “fair” and “generous.” In order for the Union’s bargaining committee and membership to fairly evaluate the potential economic impact of the Company’s proposal on terms and conditions of employment, the Unions need this information, yet the Company won’t back it up with the numbers. Fox Television Stations management formally refused to produce this information after two requests, most recently on January 27th, just days after signing the settlement agreement on January 24th.
On the matter, IATSE Local 794 Business Agent Nick Kroudis said, “Fox Broadcast Workers are rightfully concerned with how the proposed agreement will impact their employment. Even if the Company claims that the law doesn’t require sharing this information, which the Unions dispute, repeatedly refusing to provide financial analysis around a proposal you made inflicts unnecessary damage to the Company’s relationship with its workers and their union. This isn’t how productive labor relations are supposed to work.”
IATSE Local 819 Business Agent Robert A. Richardson said, “The workers know more bargaining is necessary. Fox’s proposal does nothing to address workers’ concerns that the Company is trying to make its workforce more disposable, and its package seems designed to erode long-standing protections to these workers and the collective bargaining power of the Unions. If Fox bosses can’t or won’t produce information that the Company deal is worth taking, why should the workers take that deal?”
Negotiations for a successor agreement have been ongoing for over a decade now, beginning in September 2011. When the last contract between the Unions and Fox Television Stations was negotiated during the financial crisis in 2008, workers understood the need to make temporary sacrifices with an expectation those sacrifices would be honored in future negotiations. Fourteen years later, current Fox Television Stations’ bosses refuse to even acknowledge those sacrifices and the workers’ current sacrifices being on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial justice protests and the 2020 election including coverage of the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill
At the time of this writing, Union representatives remain eager to return to the negotiating table and have offered several dates for March, though none have been officially confirmed by the Company. The bargaining committee will continue in its resolve to win the best possible contract for the Broadcast Workers of Locals 794 and 819, and will continue to utilize all lawful tactics necessary to get there.