CBS workers spurn contract proposal

WGA presents a revised series of proposals to ABC

CBS employees repped by the Writers Guild of America have spurned the latest contract proposal in a near-unanimous vote after guild negotiators recommended against it.

Voting took place Monday and Tuesday in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The Guild, which has been unable to reach a deal with CBS for nearly two years, agreed to send the contract to members in response to CBS’s repeated assertion that the members would accept any offer presented.

“The membership has spoken, rejected CBS’s final package, and told CBS what we’ve been telling them for the past 20 months we’ve been negotiating – that this offer is unacceptable,” said WGA East exec director Mona Mangan.

The proposal called for a 65-month contract through August, 2010 with wages retroactive to September 2006; a 12% wage increase over the next 45 months for TV and network radio; 8% wage increases for local radio members over 45 months; the right to assign non-Guild KFWB-Radio employees to write and edit at KNX-Radio; and he ability to merge or combine Guild shops with non-Guild units.

No new sessions have been scheduled. The two sides last met on Nov. 1.

In a statement, CBS senior VP Harry Isaacs said, “We regret that the WGA-represented employees rejected our offer, which was fair. Given the reports we received from some employees about the Guild’s heavy pressure campaign to vote against the package, the result is not surprising.”

The two sides have also been at odds over the net seeking the right to combine the newsrooms and consolidate the staffs at CBS radio stations. About 500 employees have been working under the expired contract at WCBS-TV, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM, KFWB-AM, KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV.

The WGA also announced Wednesday that it had presented a revised series of proposals to ABC on in long-stalled talks to replace a contract that expired in early 2005. The guild said ABC responded by demanding acceptance of its previously submitted offer .

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