Wednesday, November 26, 2008

CNN Ordered to Rehire 110 Workers Fired for Belonging to a Union

by James Parks, Nov 24, 2008

Photo credit: NABET-CWA Local 13

Laid-off CNN workers rallied outside the headquarters of CNN’s parent Time Warner in 2004.

This report likely won’t be on CNN’s “Headline News,” but after five years, former workers at CNN have finally gained justice. In a decision made public today, an administrative law judge ordered the network to rehire 110 workers who were fired because they were union members. CNN also was ordered to recognize the workers’ unions, National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA) locals 31 and 11.

Judge Arthur Amchan found that CNN violated the rights of more than 250 employees at the network’s bureaus in Washington, D.C., and New York City when it ended its subcontract with Team Video Services (TVS), whose employees were represented by NABET-CWA. He also ruled that CNN discriminated against TVS employees who wanted to continue working at CNN’s bureaus to avoid having to recognize and bargain with the union.

Ed McEwan, president of Local 11, said the decision

is a victory for workers, but one that took far too long to achieve
because of our broken labor laws. Everyone in America should know that
the network management we rely on to bring us the news are not above the
illegal practices that they headline on a regular basis. From the very
beginning we promised our members that “we will not forget.” We didn’t,
and we’re keeping up the fight until fairness is fully won.

For more than 20 years, CNN subcontracted the technical work of broadcasting news and programming from its Washington, D.C., and New York bureaus to a series of subcontractors. The employees of these subcontractors, who were always represented by NABET-CWA, provided the video and sound for many of CNN’s most recognized programs, including “Larry King Live” and “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” But in 2003 and 2004, CNN terminated its deal with the last subcontractor, TVS, and announced that the network would hire its own employees to provide these services.

In his 169-page decision, Judge Amchan found that CNN and TVS were joint employers of the subcontractor’s employees and were obligated to recognize and bargain with NABET-CWA over the decision to terminate the subcontract, as well as the decision to hire new employees.

CNN’s new hiring scheme was a sham, Amchan ruled, one the network used to discriminate against TVS employees who belonged to NABET-CWA. He ordered the network to reinstate with full back pay more than 110 employees, to train those rehired, if necessary, and to recognize the unions in New York and Washington, D.C.

Local 31 President Carl Mayers says the workers deserve the credit for this victory:

It is a great victory for all union workers and would not have been possible without the hard work and courage of the members that were terminated by CNN as well as those that remained and never gave up hope.

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