CBS News and Promo Internet Writers Ratify WGA West Deal

6:47 PM PST 08/24/2011 by Jonathan Handel

A long process led to wage increases and various benefits.

Add another contract to the WGA West’s list: CBS’s Internet writer-producers working in television and radio news, and in promotions, have ratified their first-ever contract with the network.  Ratification came last week but was announced by the guild today.

The bargaining unit is small – 15 writers – but the organizing campaign apparently took some effort. Two years ago – in late July of 2009 – the writer-producers voted unanimously to be represented by the guild. It then took 15 months to negotiate a deal.

“While the process may have been long, the victory is sweet,” said WGAW Representative Lynda Whittaker.

Among the CBS entities involved is the whimsically named EyeLab – “makin’ stuff for the tubes since 2007” – whose website explains that “it’s just a few of us slaving away in this dark, dark basement, but every once and a while they give us punch and pie.”

Whether the basement will now be better lit is unknown, but some of the Eye’s lab rats will have health benefits just in case they gorge on punch and pie.

More particularly, the new guild agreement includes increases in minimums and wages, a grievance procedure, paid vacations, holiday pay, and pension and health benefits. The agreement also provides language outlining job duties and working conditions, as well as discharge and layoff protections with negotiated severance pay.

“I come from a long line of strong union members in my family, and I am proud to vote ‘Union Yes’ on our first WGAW contract,” said KNX radio web writer Danny Frias.

The WGAW has long represented CBS TV news writers, so the new bargaining unit is in a sense an extension of that coverage. The New York counterpart, WGA East, represents a range of news writers.

To celebrate ratification of the new WGAW deal, a series of “Celebration of Solidarity” luncheons hosted by the long-time guild members of KCAL/KCBS broadcast news, CBS on-air promotions, and KNX radio will be held at each CBS studio location in September.

Email: jhandel@att.net

Twitter: @jhandel

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