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News writers at CBS authorize strike action

The union representing news writers at CBS News said Nov. 19 that its members have voted to authorize the Writers Guild of America East to call a strike, potentially compounding the labor woes facing the network, which began two weeks ago when TV and film screenwriters went on strike.

The CBS news writers, who work both in television and radio news, are employed in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. They have worked without a contract since April 2005.

According to the union, several points of contention have kept management and the guild from settling the long-standing labor dispute. They include:

  • CBS management’s wage offer, which the union said is less than the cost of living and has no retroactivity;
  • CBS’s demand for a two-tier wage package by which local radio writers would receive a smaller increase than TV and network radio writers;
  • CBS’s demand for a clause to allow it to more easily consolidate guild-covered and non-guild departments;
  • CBS’s demand that non-guild KFWB (Los Angeles) radio employees be allowed guild-covered work at KNX without paying guild wages or benefits.