NABET, NBC near deal early on pay contract

3-year contract grants most employees raises

In marked contrast to its rancorous 11-week lockout at ABC, the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees & Technicians on Thursday reached a tentative contract agreement with NBC — two months early.

The proposed package includes a raise of between 9% and 12% in most employees’ salaries.

It was the first time in the net’s history that an agreement was reached as much as two months before a contract’s expiration, officials said. The present pact expires on March 31.

“We’re very pleased we have come to an early agreement that represents a fair deal for both sides,” NBC spokeswoman Kassie Cantor said.

The three-year deal covers 2,500 off-camera employees represented by the union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America.

NABET president John Clark said the settlement was reached “without the rancor and bad feelings” that permeated previous negotiations.

“Our committee believes it is the best agreement we could reach in 1999 and I concur,” he said. The deal was unanimously recommended for ratification by the union’s negotiating committee, and now goes to the membership for approval.

Gains in the contract include the addition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as the workers’ 11th annual holiday and a “seniority pay system”‘ that will increase salaries for daily hires based on days worked. The union agreed to additional flexibility in certain areas, including the use of daily hires.

The NABET lockout at ABC ended Jan. 15 after the union agreed to not strike without warning. Union members, who have been without a contract at ABC since March 1997, have yet to ratify a new deal.