May 2012

IBEW Freelance Techs Ratify Contract
with Fox Sports
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On a typical day at work, IBEW freelance photographer Mario Zecca works from a suspended crane about 15 feet in the air alongside the field to get his shots, as players and balls whiz past his camera.

That's one reason why the New York Local 1212 member — who was part of the IBEW bargaining committee with employer Fox Sports — said he's happy the new contract negotiated between the two parties includes additional safety standards, among other wins.

"Fox and the IBEW have done a very good job making safety a priority," said Zecca, a 17-year member. "It's great that my union and my employer have such open lines of communication."

About 1,200 IBEW freelancers bring the high-octane power of NASCAR races and record moments in the NFL and Major League Baseball to millions of Fox Sports viewers nationwide. The new agreement — which was overwhelmingly ratified on March 31 — means the members will continue to showcase excellence behind the camera for at least the next four years.

The new contract earns members an 8-percent wage increase, additional medical benefits, a 24-percent increase in travel compensation and added job security. The agreement takes effect
Aug. 1 and expires July 31, 2016.

Members voted via mail-in ballots after reaching a tentative agreement with Fox Sports on Feb. 17.

IBEW leaders said the negotiations were amicable. Director of Broadcasting and Telecommunications Martha Pultar said the vote results were expected.

"Given the positive rounds of discussion we had with Fox Sports in February, it's no surprise that this contract was widely embraced by the membership," she said. "It was a pleasure to negotiate with a company that wasn't at the table to take advantage of the recent economic downturn. The network values the professionalism of the IBEW freelancers whom they employ, and they were very clear about that during bargaining."

Chicago Local 1220 Business Manager John Rizzo said that "an increase in travel was a top priority for members as we headed into bargaining. We were glad to be able to negotiate the 6 percent annual [travel] boost for the freelancers."

TV viewers will see the members' skills on display during high-profile events like this year's World Series, the Daytona 500 and the 2013 Super Bowl. "This is a great deal for both our members and Fox Sports," said International President Edwin D. Hill. "Sports fans expect the best from their favorite players when they take the field, and Fox Sports expects the same from our talented team of technicians. I'm happy that the company realizes and appreciates the fine job these men and women do to help keep viewers tuning in, and I know this will continue to be a trusted partnership for years to come."

The employees covered by the contract are members of St. Louis Local 4; Hollywood, Calif., Local 45; Washington Local 1200; New York Local 1212; and Chicago Local 1220. They provide photography, graphics, audio, video and editing services and perform other utility duties. Their current contract expires July 31.

IBEW freelancers working for Fox Sports approved a new agreement with wage increases and other benefit improvements.