CBS, WGAE spat heads to NLRB hearing


A federal complaint has been issued against CBS in connection with unfair labor practice charges filed by the WGA East.

Under standard procedures, the issuing of a National Labor Relations Board complaint in the matter was virtually preordained since the guild lodged its charges April 16. But the NLRB has now scheduled a July 25 hearing before an administrative law judge, who will more fully review arguments from both sides and decide whether to take further action against the broadcast network.

The WGAE alleges that CBS personnel prevented certain organizing activities on its premises and that a guild member was improperly threatened with being fired for "protected union activities." The dispute comes amid long-stalled contract negotiations on behalf of WGAE broadcast newswriters and others, whose last pact expired more than two years ago.

The guild, whose 500 members at CBS facilities in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles have been working there without a contract since April 1, 2005, seeks immediate relief. In addition to newswriters, the affected members include editors, desk and production assistants, graphic artists, promotion writers and researchers.

In November, WGA members soundly rejected a proposed new contract. That proposal featured 12% wage boosts over 45 months for TV and network radio employees and 8% increases for those in local radio.

"Instead of giving our members a fair and respectful contract, CBS has sought to limit our ability to access and support our membership as a way to force them to accept the inferior contract that they already rejected last November," WGAE president Chris Albers said. "Our members demand that CBS return to the bargaining table with an offer of a fair and respectful contract."

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said CBS execs "believe the complaint is not warranted and will be dismissed once the evidence is heard."

The WGAE's contract with ABC covering about 250 newswriters and others in New York and Washington also has expired. The WGAE-ABC pact went open Jan. 31, 2005.