On Tuesday December 7, IATSE Locals 794-819, Television Broadcasting Studio Employees Union, met via Zoom with representatives from Fox Television Stations in New York and Maryland for collective bargaining in joint sessions. Attending for IATSE was:
IATSE Local 794 (New York)
- Nick Kroudis, Business Agent
- Merrill Owens, President
- Dennis Beattie, Shop Steward
IATSE Local 819 (Washington, DC)
- Robert Al Richardson, Business Agent
- Bryan Roberts, President
- Joe Hammond, Shop Steward
Jonas Loeb, IATSE International, Director of Communications
Kevin Allen, IATSE International, International Representative
Hope Pordy, Spivak Lipton LLP, Legal Representative
The IATSE representatives entered the meeting eager to continue negotiations, and indicated that management’s primary proposed agreement, dated 11/16, was unlikely to be approved by the members of IATSE Locals 794 and 819 absent preservation of core job security provisions. The Union bargaining committee has been holding membership meetings to keep the members informed of the negotiations process and to solicit feedback on bargaining proposals.
While the Company’s proposals contained top-line wage and retirement benefit increases, workers are concerned these are merely a “sugar high”, intentionally distracting from provisions which would enable the Company to erode the Union’s long-term bargaining status and treat unionized broadcast workers as disposable. These provisions include:
- Offloading subjects of collective bargaining onto Company Handbooks and policies which can change at any time and depriving the Union of its lawful right to bargain over these policies
- Allowing management to replace union broadcast workers by permitting inexperienced, non-union workers to operate, repair, and/or maintain broadcast and technical equipment.
- Allowing the Company to kick workers to the curb in times of crisis (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic) with overly permissive Force Majeure language basically letting the Company off-the-hook with respect to its contractual obligations
- Reducing vacation time while at the same time scheduling excessive overtime at the Company’s discretion
- Dividing workers into complicated new seniority lists to make it easier to lay off long term employees
Following the presentation of these concerns in a heated exchange, the Company continued to repeatedly claim that the 11/16 Package Proposal is fair and generous with respect to enhancements to bargaining unit employees’ terms and conditions of employment.
In order for the Union to fully understand the 11/16 Package Proposal, its impact on the membership, and the Company’s position with respect to its terms, the Union requested that the Company provide a full costing-out of each of the fifty-five items listed in the 11/16 Package Proposal, including all economic and non-economic terms (e.g. jurisdictional changes), and provide the back-up data relied upon by the Company in preparing the costing out summary. The Union also requested that the Company supplement previously requested information so that the Union is in possession of recent employment data.
The Union requested that this information be provided no later than December 17, 2021 so that Union representatives could fairly evaluate the economic impact of the Company’s proposal on members’ terms and conditions of employment. As of 48 hours after this request was sent on Tuesday at approximately 4:40pm ET, the Union has not received any response, nor are there any additional bargaining dates scheduled at this time.
Negotiations for a successor agreement have been ongoing for over a decade now, beginning in September 2011. So far, the give and take required for productive negotiations has not been proportionate, and the Company has refused to move off their demands to create a more disposable workforce. In this, the Company is turning its back on 75 years of stable labor conditions and a productive labor-management relationship.
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 the tactics necessary to get there.
The IATSE Fox Television Stations (WNYW / WWOR & WTTG / WDCA) Bargaining Committee