Approximately 300 of the 500 WGA-represented employees at CBS’ TV and radio operations in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles voted in a special election Nov. 15 and 16 approving a strike authorization by 81%.
CBS’ WGA employees have been working without a contract since 2005 and without pay raises since April 2004. WGA membership voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s contract offer in November 2006.
At issue is CBS' proposal to put local radio personnel on a lower wage tier than their national radio and television counterparts. CBS said this simply reflects the economic realities of its radio holdings, which have been hit by weak ad sales and divestitures.
The WGA also took issue with the company’s proposal to share some writing duties between WGA and AFTRA members at KNX in Los Angeles and its sister radio station. AFTRA members have agreed to the job share.
And the WGA is asking for retroactive pay, which the company has declined to offer.
The two sides have not met since January 2007.
The WGA represents news writers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, promotion writers and researchers on the national and local level.
Results of the vote were not unexpected, but WGA leadership is hoping that the very real possibility of a work stoppage gets CBS representatives back to the bargaining table.
In a statement, CBS termed the strike authorization “unfortunate” and contended that the company made a “fair and reasonable” contract offer.
"We hope there is no strike," the statement continued. "Should there be, however, CBS News, CBS Television Stations and CBS Radio remain fully prepared and ready to continue producing the highest-quality news programming for our viewers.”
For full coverage of the strike, click here.