AFTRA plans WFSB boycott - Broadcasting & Cable

AFTRA plans WFSB boycott

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To protest its bargaining stalemate with Meredith Broadcasting Corp.’s
WFSB(TV) Hartford, Conn., members of the American Federation of Radio and Television
Artists there said yesterday that they will boycott a charity fund-raiser for the
station's camp for underprivileged kids and an affiliated charity golf
tournament for local advertisers, both scheduled for Tuesday.

"Our members are not going to go out of their way to promote the station to
its advertisers when the company is using such aggressive tactics to decimate
its union contracts," said Tom Higgins, AFTRA’s New England broadcast
director.

AFTRA members said they “made a donation to the [Channel 3] kids camp and
offered to appear at non-station-sponsored events for the camp in lieu of their
participation at the golf tournament and auction.” 

But in a letter to Higgins, supplied to Broadcasting & Cable by Meredith, camp president
Reggie Hales said the camp had not received the donation, and he accused the
union of using a “camp for underprivileged children as basically a pawn to
further your own agenda.”

Hales added, “It had better be a pretty big check, since we stand to lose more
than $25,000 in auction and raffle prizes."

Hales expressed disappointment in particular with on-air local stars and
told B&C other local media celebrities might attend.

The union said the station is seeking concessions from past contracts
affecting employees’ schedules and working conditions that would impact
negatively on family life.

"For a company so identified with the family, they seem to have little regard
for the families of their employees," Higgins said.

The station said it is “asking for the flexibility to design a work schedule
that best serves our ability to continue to provide southern New England with
unparalleled news coverage,” adding that the changes in scheduling would affect only
new hires.

A session last month with a federal mediator failed to produce an
agreement.

The current agreement with AFTRA expired last November.

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