WGA takes CBS contract to members

Proposal to be decided by vote

The Writers Guild of America will send CBS’s latest contract proposal to the 500 employees it reps for voting — even though its negotiating committee contends the proposal is unacceptable.

The Guild, which has been unable to reach a deal with CBS for nearly two years, said it had taken the step in response to CBS’s repeated assertion that the members would accept any offer presented. WGA East exec director Mona Mangan predicted that members will vote down the offer.

“Although we’ve been negotiating in good faith for more than 20 months to get a fair contact for our members, the CBS Labor Relations department does not seem to understand that the Negotiating Committee’s insistence to keep bargaining for a better contract represents the exact views and directives of our members who are unhappy and outraged by the latest contract offer CBS has proposed,” Mangan said.

“Now the members will be able to speak for themselves and tell CBS what we’ve been telling them for the past 20 months – that this offer is unacceptable,” she said Wednesday in a statement. “Our members do not want wage increases far below the cost of living and industry standard, a two-tier workforce that is particularly punitive to local radio employees, and reduced job security, all of which are offered in this insulting CBS proposal.”

Negotiations began in April 2005 with the last session taking place on Nov. 1. 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. Stations covered by the pact include WCBS-TV, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM, KFWB-AM, KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV.

For its part, CBS has sent a memo to employees this week describing its final offer, which provides 3% annual increases in television and network radio and 2% in local radio with the 3% increase retroactive to September if the offer’s accepted by Nov. 30.

The memo, authored by Harry Isaacs, asserts that the offer is “generous” and admits that CBS won’t grant further retroactivity. “We do not want to reward the Guild’s stalling tactics with retroactivity,” he added.

Voting will take place at membership meetings in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C.

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