15 November 2007

News Writers May Strike Next

Bill Carter from The Times and I must think alike. Last night as I was playing musical cars and listening to 1010 WINS, I wondered how news writers felt about this ongoing "writers strike". They're writers, too; very important ones at that. Same goes for those who write for the TV news.

Sure enough, I open up The Times and see this. All I know is I'm a card carrying AFTRA member. So if they walk, I walk; in solidarity to my brethren. I'll even help blow up the big rat outside.

“With one writers’ strike already under way, CBS will face the prospect of a second one when news writers, producers, editors and artists take a strike authorization vote tomorrow and Friday.

Any strike could affect news programs on the CBS network and local television and radio stations. The chief issues involve CBS’s desire to create a pay system that would provide smaller raises for radio workers than television workers and the possibility of combining some newsroom operations. For example, CBS, which owns both the WCBS and WINS radio stations in New York, might be able to merge the work staffs, according to Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, which represents the employees.

The Writers Guild said the vote was likely to be heavily pro-strike considering that 99 percent of the union had voted to turn down the last CBS offer, which came a year ago, and no changes have been made since.

CBS sent out a letter to employees — the network says about 200 workers are affected; the union says about 500 are — blaming the union for turning down more than 100 potential negotiating dates. The two sides have met just once in the last year. The letter encouraged guild members to consider working even if a strike was declared. In a statement, CBS said it was prepared for a strike and would continue to produce “quality news programming.”

In its letter, CBS said it was offering about a 3 percent raise to television employees and 2 percent to local radio employees. Ms. Goldman said the figures were 2.2 percent and 1.48 percent. The employees have not had a raise in almost three years.

Ms. Goldman emphasized that an authorization vote would not mean an automatic strike. “It only means we can declare a strike at any time,” she said. The results will be announced Monday.”

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