AFL-CIO Boycotts Sinclair Broadcasting over Unfair Contract Implementation
February 17, 2011
As IBEW members at a Portland, Maine, television station continue to create large profits for parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., workers behind the scenes have been without a contract for a year while seeing their paychecks diminish. That has prompted the AFL-CIO to add the company to the federation’s boycott list.
Leaders of Manchester Local 1837 – which represents workers at WGME-TV Channel 13, a CBS network affiliate – are urging businesses not to purchase advertising on Sinclair-owned stations in nearly two dozen states.
Local 1837 officials and Sinclair management negotiated for more than a year starting in 2009. A year ago today, Sinclair declared that negotiations were deadlocked and began implementing parts of its last contract offer – even though the local had made counter proposals in an effort to find common ground with WGME.
The company cut pay by as much as 10 percent for the operating technicians, editors, photographers, producers, directors and others who helped the station earn numerous awards. It also announced other changes not yet implemented that could undermine job security for the bargaining unit and possibly threaten the viability of the local.
Meanwhile, Sinclair – a largely nonunion company that owns or operates 57 stations across the country in 35 markets – posted profits of more than $43 million during the last fiscal year. Salaries and bonuses for managers were also higher in 2010 than in previous years.
IBEW 1837 Organizer Matthew Beck, a television director at WGME 13 for nearly 20 years, said the company thinks its workers are overpaid:
WGME has the highest union density of any of Sinclair’s stations with about 40 IBEW and 15 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists members.
Beck said the national boycott of Sinclair stations “is meant to shine a light on this anti-worker, anti-union company’s refusal to offer our members a fair contract”:
Local 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney praised the efforts of local union members:
In the run-up to Maine’s 2010 gubernatorial primaries, all five of the Democratic candidates pulled advertising from the station to highlight the station’s unfair treatment of workers.
For a complete list of Sinclair stations, visit the AFL-CIO’s Union Label & Service Trades Department website here. Scroll down to the section “Entertainment and Recreation.”
Send a message of solidarity to WGME employees by commenting on the group’s Facebook page.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.wgmeunfair.com.
Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user vlauria.