WGA and CBS reach agreement with news writers

The Writers Guild and CBS have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for about 500 broadcast production personnel who have been working under an expired contract since April 1, 2005.

The agreement, which has been approved unanimously by the WGA-CBS Negotiating Committee, must still be ratified by membership vote. It includes employees for CBS under the Writers Guild of America, East and West (WGAE and WGAW).

The contract covers about 500 news writers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, promotion writers and researchers working in television and radio on the national and local levels.

The new contract, if approved, runs until April 1, 2010. Under the terms of the agreement, WGA-CBS employees will receive a 3.5 percent raise upon ratification of the contract and again in 2009. In addition, most regularly scheduled employees who worked 200 days or more in 2007 and did not receive wage increases during the negotiations time frame will receive an additional $3700 payment. Employees who worked shorter schedules will receive pro-rated payments.

In reaching this agreement, CBS dropped its demand to create a two-tiered work force that would have provided lower salary increases for local radio employees and its demand for the right to assign current WGA responsibilities at KNX Radio Los Angeles to non-WGA employees.

In addition, both parties agreed to a 90-day notification and bargaining period should CBS decide to consolidate operations under its rights provided under the law.

During this 90-day period, no changes to the contract may be imposed. If no resolution is reached during the 90-day period, the contract allows either party to pursue all legal and contractual options under the law, including filing cases at the National Labor Relations Board.