NABET-CWA Local 21 Ratifies Contract.

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NABET-CWA Local 21
National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians  - Communication Workers of America

For Immediate Release:  April 8, 2006
NABET-CWA Local 21 Ratifies Contract.  Ends "Turn Off CBS 6"
Schenectady, NY - April 8, 2006.  Members of NABET-CWA Local 21, representing photographers, engineers and technicians at WRGB-TV/CBS 6, voted 26-5 to accept a contract offer from the company.  The vote took place Friday evening at the Holiday Inn on Nott Terrace in Schenectady.  The new contract, which runs until June 2008, keeps wages frozen at their current level for most employees.  The company had been pushing to cut wages 15%.  In addition there is a $1500. signing bonus for NABET workers and the "Success Sharing" bonus that was withheld in January will now be given. The union also agreed that the minimum number of full time staffing could be cut due to advances in broadcast technology.
The union will immediately end its "Turn Off CBS 6" campaign and will work with management to heal the wounds that were created during the bitter battle that started in September, 2005.  Members present at Friday night's vote considered the contract a victory for the union. According to NABET-CWA Negotiating Committee member Bruce Ullrich, "It is not a great deal in front of us, however considering the times and everything else in play, it is more than likely the best possible outcome.  Keep in mind that without the efforts of this local and its friends, the company would have simply imposed everything they asked for." 
The investment by Blackstone in Freedom Communications, parent company of CBS 6, made these negotiations the most difficult in over 20 years.  Blackstone insists on double digit returns on their investments.  To achieve this they demanded salary cuts even while making healthy profits.  Only the determined efforts of the NABET employees at CBS 6, with local labor and community support, made this settlement possible.  We are all proud that we were successful in fighting this effort.
The union believes the turning point in the negotiations came when the Eliot Spitzer gubernatorial campaign pulled its ads from CBS 6.  This came in the wake of several unions including CSEA, PEF, NYSUT and UUP along with some local commercial advertisers pulling their media campaigns.  With the loss of this revenue, the prospect of more boycotts during the upcoming political season and the May ratings period a few weeks away, the union feels the company was forced to negotiate in a more reasonable manner. 
On behalf of all its members,  NABET-CWA Local 21 offers its gratitude to all those in the labor community who supported it efforts.  In particular the Capital District Area Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO and the aforementioned unions.  It would also like to thank those in the community and the local advertisers who gave support,  including radio show hosts J.R. Gach and Bob "The Wolf" Wohfeld who helped get our message out.  We also would like to thank the politicians who helped us by signing a pledge not to advertise or grant interviews until a fair contract could be negotiated.  Last but certainly not least we would like to acknowledge our fellow non-NABET coworkers of CBS 6 who understood that our battle was ultimately their battle and helped us survive these tense times at the station.