Agreement covers 250 news employees

The WGA East has reached a tentative agreement with ABC covering about 250 news employees, who have been working under an expired contract for nearly three years.

The guild made the announcement Thursday, noting the deal had been accepted by its negotiating committee and will be put to a vote for ratification on Dec. 13 at meetings in New York and Washington, D.C.

The announcement comes with the WGA in its fourth week of a strike over its major contract, which covers writing on films and TV programs. Two weeks ago, the guild also obtained a strike authorization from members working for CBS News, who have been without a new contract for over two years.

The tentative ABC contract covers newswriters, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists and researchers in New York and Washington, D.C.

The deal calls for raises of 3.5% annually plus a $3,700 contract bonus for full-time employees and a pro-rated bonus for those working per diem schedules or for lesser periods of time. The pact also includes a lower night shift differential by one hour in the second year, increases acting editor fees; establishes a new fee for production assistants; lowers payment for a missed lunch period in network radio; and decreases payment for ops room work in network radio while grandfathering current employees.

The new contract will be effective upon ratification and will expire Feb. 1, 2010.

“We’re pleased to secure, finally, a fair contract for our members,” said WGA East exec director Mona Mangan in a statement. “More importantly, this contract covers all our WGAE-ABC news members and allows all of them, including the writer/producers at WABC-TV, to remain in the Guild and continue to enjoy the benefits and protections of the union.”

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