CNN cancels union workers’ agreement

Without the union, workers will lose the right to be paid extra for such things as night shifts and short turnarounds.
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CNN, a business unit of Time Warner, has terminated its agreement with a unionized contractor that provides more than 220 technicians and camera crews for its Washington and New York bureaus. CNN said it wants to bring the jobs in-house with nonunion workers.

The technicians, who are represented by the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), have been invited to apply for nonunion jobs at CNN. Some already have been hired.

“It’s union-busting,” Mark Peach, president of NABET Local 31, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Local 31 represents the Washington work force.

Without the union, Peach said workers will lose the right to be paid extra for such things as night shifts and short turnarounds, which for some workers can be as much as $12,000 a year.

“We did this because we are seeking to make better use of current technology and to redefine existing roles among staff,” said Christa Robinson, a spokeswoman for CNN. She denied that the company is trying to break the union.

CNN has long used outside workers as camera crew and studio technicians in its Washington and New York bureaus. It hired the current contractor, Team Video Services, six years ago in Washington, and expanded the relationship to the New York bureau two years ago. In September, CNN notified Team Video Services that the contract would be terminated in 90 days, and it invited Team Video Services’ staffers to apply for jobs at CNN.

In Washington, 87 workers were asked to apply for similar jobs at CNN; 46 have been hired, union officials told the Journal. In New York, about 135 workers have been invited to apply for jobs at CNN. They will be informed of their fates in January.

CNN declined to comment on the union figures.

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