It looks like CBS is about to have two strikes on their hands. CBS News employees who are members of the WGA voted 81% in favour of authorizing a strike on Monday, meaning about 500 CBS newswriters, editors, and desk assistants in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Chicago could walk out at any time.
CBS’s WGA-repped news writers have been working without a contract since April 2005. CBS wants to impose a two-tier wage structure, with higher raises for TV and network radio, and lower increases for local radio. CBS also wants the ability to combine guild and non-guild staff at stations like WCBS-AM 880 and 1010 WINS in New York, and KNX and KFWB in Los Angeles. CBS statement, via TV Newser, after the jump.
It is unfortunate that our WGA news writers have voted to authorise a strike. The offer we presented nearly a year ago was fair and reasonable, and remains on the table. It not only includes one of the best medical plans in the country with minimal employee contributions, but fair salary increases to all WGA employees as well. In fact, contrary to what the WGA contends, CBS proposed an annual increase of 3% for television and network radio, and 2% for the radio stations covered by this agreement. The lower percentage increases the WGA continues to cite are based on spreading the increases as if they were retroactive to April 2005; the offer of retroactivity expired after CBS had made numerous attempts over a long period of time to conduct and conclude negotiations. As to the issue of assigning current WGA responsibilities at KNX radio to non-WGA employees, here are the facts: we are simply asking that some writing duties be shared with those from another professional talent union (AFTRA) at a sister station in Los Angeles. This request seems fair given that AFTRA employees had already agreed to it, and that we are offering layoff protection to any worker at KNX affected by the change. We hope there is no strike. Should there be, however, CBS News, CBS Television Stations and CBS Radio remains fully prepared, and ready to continue producing the highest quality news programming for our viewers.