Join Us

Sign up for the lastest information from the IBEW!

Related ArticlesRelated Articles

Visit Our Media Department

Print This Page       Text Size:
News Publications

AFL-CIO Boycotts Sinclair Broadcasting over Unfair Contract Implementation

February 17, 2011

'Just Say No' Sinclar boycott

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:

If Sinclair came to us across the bargaining table and told us that they were hurting, we would work with them to figure out how to keep the station viable. If a wage cut is what it took to preserve members’ jobs, we would consider that. But that clearly wasn’t the case. They said at the table that they have no problems with money. They just decided that our members were getting paid too much.

It’s a familiar story of corporate greed – increasing profits by hurting the workers’ bottom lines.

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”:

Our members are hurting, and we need to make sure Sinclair knows that many businesses and viewers of their stations want workers to get a fair deal. They’re tired of waiting and are fed up with Sinclair’s greed.

Local 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney praised the efforts of local union members:

The members at WGME 13 have done great work for this station for many, many years. That work has helped make WGME 13 one of the premier stations in Maine and throughout the Sinclair chain.

We hope that people in our community and throughout the country in cities that Sinclair serves will take their business elsewhere until Sinclair offers a fair deal to their workers here in Portland.

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.