News employees approve three-year contract

CBS News employees repped by the Writers Guild of America have ratified a new three-year deal, eight months after their previous deal expired.

The new deal, ratified by 83% of those voting, covers more than 400 news employees. The WGA, which had not disclosed that it reached a tentative deal with CBS, announced the ratification Saturday.

The contract covers newswriters, writer/producers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, and promotion writers working in TV and radio on the national and local levels in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The contract is retroactive to April 2 and runs through April 6, 2013. The WGA said the pact includes three first-time features — CBS News staff employees are eligible for the Writers Guild pension fund; minimums were established for writer-producers; and minimum representation percentages were established at local TV shops.

The deal also provides for a 2% wage hike in January and another 2% in April 2012 while freelance/per diem employees will receive two additional 1% increases.

“We achieved our main goals of ensuring that the Guilds and our members have a solid future at CBS News and also realize economic gains,” said Lowell Peterson, exec director of the WGA East. “Getting members into the Guild pension plan is a major advance, and we are pleased to also get wage increases for our members.”

The previous pact between the WGA and CBS was hammered out in January 2008, nearly three years after the April 2005 expiration of the prior contract. During those talks, CBS News employees gave the WGA a strike authorization and the prospect of a picket by the network employees prompted the Democratic National Committee to cancel a presidential debate that had been set for December 2007 in Los Angeles for broadcast on CBS.

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