WGA-CBS Newswriter Membership Authorizes Strike

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Link to coverage on HollywoodReporter.com

CBS News employees who are members of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) resoundingly voted 81% to authorize a strike against CBS. The strong vote gives the WGAE and WGAW authorization to call a strike at any time.

Almost 300 WGA-CBS members voted in the special election, held on November 15 and 16th in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

WGA-CBS members, working in television and radio, on the national and local levels, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C., have been working under an expired contract since April 2, 2005 and without pay raises since April 2004. In November 2006, the WGA-CBS membership voted by an overwhelming 99% to reject CBS’s contract offer. Since that time, CBS has refused to put forth any new proposals, insisting on the offer which membership rejected. CBS’s continued demand that membership accept its offer spurred the employees to overwhelming vote to authorize a strike.

“Our members at CBS News consistently have demonstrated their hard work and commitment to quality journalism, but have had their dedication and diligence rebuffed by management’s refusal to negotiate a fair, respectful contract,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East. “By this powerful vote and other actions they have taken, Writers Guild members are sending their CBS bosses an irrefutable message of solidarity: we will do whatever it takes to get what we have earned and deserve.”

“CBS news and promo writers deserve a good contract, and this vote is long overdue proof that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve it,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. “Their fellow writers of TV, film and new media, who know first hand what a vote like this can mean, stand behind them in their efforts.”

Key elements of CBS’s last contract offer, which was rejected by the membership, are:

  • A two-tier wage package – television and network radio members in one tier and local radio members in another – far below the cost of living with no retroactive pay. The proposal offered 2.2% raises for television and network radio, and 1.48% raises for local radio.
  • The right to assign current WGA responsibilities at KNX Radio to non-WGA employees.
  • The ability to merge or combine Guild shops with non-Guild units, and in doing so potentially force the Guild out of those shops. Stations affected may include WCBS-AM 880 and 1010 WINS in New York, and KNX and KFWB in Los Angeles.
  • The WGA-CBS national agreement covers newswriters, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, promotion writers, and researchers in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles working in television and radio on the national and local levels. More than 500 WGA-CBS employees are covered under this contract, which expired on April 1, 2005. The two sides last met at the negotiations table on January 8, 2007.