Union NABET-CWA has broken off contract talks with ABC with fighting words. In a bulletin, Gene Maxwell, president of the New York local, said ABC's proposals "amount to a declaration of war."
The two sides have been talking since mid-February, but NABET had recently bristled over a proposal that would have modified the seniority system . But the union had also cited what it said were "attacks on the pension, attacks on jurisdiction, attacks on the paid meal period, and attacks on a multitude of other work rules and conditions."
"It is unprecedented for a union at ABC to walk out at this stage of negotiations just because it does not like what has been proposed," responded ABC in a statement Friday. "ABC did not expect NABET to like all the company proposals, just as there are many NABET proposals that ABC doesn't like, but we did expect them to negotiate, not just walk away. That is what collective bargaining negotiations is all about. We are shocked and saddened by this precipitous action."
An ABC source said the network had asked NABET to reconsider the walkout and stood ready to return to the table.
In the same bulletin written for members, NABET-CWA President John Clark said he told ABC: "For the immediate future, our time would be best spent educating our members on the potentially devastating effect your proposals would have on them and their future security."
The four-year contract ends on March 31. The contract talks dealt with desk assistants in New York, news writers and producers in San Francisco, and news writers in Chicago and L.A.