IBEW Photographers Fight for Retirement Security
September 22, 2014
Photographers at WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., are usually found behind the camera. But earlier this month, they became part of the news, picketing the station during televised state primary debates Sept. 2 through 5.
The photographers – members of Boston Local 1228 – are protesting their exclusion from the station’s pension plan. The more than one dozen employees are the only workers at the station, including a second IBEW unit representing technical staff, not covered by the plan.
Local 1228 has recommended merging both units so both groups are covered under the same benefits package.
WMUR is owned by the media giant, Hearst Corp.
“We’re the front lines of the news, we’re the ones who risk our physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, human tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire,” said WMUR photographer Ryan Murphy. “We work side by side with first responders, shoot and edit these stories that generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and all we are asking for is equal treatment.”
Photographers were the first employees at the station to join the IBEW in 2003. Master control and microwave satellite operators joined two years later. What they didn’t know was that soon after their contract went into effect, Hearst made all of WMUR’s staff eligible for pension benefits – except them.
“We’re these 13 lonely guys without a retirement,” Ryan said.
He points to WCVB-TV in Boston, another Hearst station, which covers photographers under its retirement plan.
To take its campaign to the public, Local 1228 terminated its contract Aug. 30 so it could build community awareness about the situation, including picketing the station during the debates.
“We’re have been building broad support throughout the state and have caught the attention of politicians who find it hard to believe this injustice exists at WMUR,” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer.
Contract negotiations with Hearst start in October.
You can follow their campaign on Twitter @wmurphot9.