IBEW members working in broadcasting often must work weekends, such as this technician and member of Boston Local 1228. Those in Rhode Island are now receiving back for Sundays, thanks to an attentive shop steward.

Boston Local 1228 members employed by Rhode Island broadcast outlets are receiving back pay after the local became aware of a state law regarding overtime wages.

Boston Local 1228 members on the job working as camera operators. Members working in Rhode Island have begun receiving back pay for working on Sundays.

The law requires workers to receive overtime pay when they work on Sundays and state holidays. Local 1228 is fighting to secure pay for all its Rhode Island bargaining units that have yet to receive it.

Andy Gannon, a shop steward and a technician for Rhode Island PBS, brought it to the attention of Business Manager Fletcher Fischer during contract negotiations with the employer. Local 1228 brought it to the attention of station management, which agreed to comply with the law. It has been paying back wages covering the last three years to all current and former employees affected by the law.

Some industries are exempt from the statute. Broadcasting is not one of them.

"The law is the law," said Fischer, who has been business manager and financial secretary since 2011.

"This is a clear example of a vigilant shop steward," Fischer said. "His diligence has brought wage corrections for every broadcast station in Rhode Island, whether they are union or nonunion."

The battle to ensure that the broadcast technicians were paid according to the law got significant media attention in New England. The Boston Globe reported on it, and a nonunion television station that reported on the "Sunday law" was forced to provide back pay to its workers.

Fischer said management at WJAR, an NBC affiliate in Providence where Local 1228 provides representation, was reluctant to provide back pay and looked for loopholes in the law. It ultimately paid up after the local threatened legal action.

Local 1228 represents about 600 broadcast technicians and camera operators at television stations and broadcast sports and entertainment crewing companies throughout New England.

Fischer said the back pay has come at a crucial time for many members. Much like newspapers, local broadcast outlets have been roiled by layoffs and budget cuts in recent years, forcing many experienced professionals from the industry. Wages have been growing at a lower rate than when local television stations were a virtual cash cow.

"A lot of turnover came during the pandemic," Fischer said. "A lot of people decided broadcast station work was not for them. There's a high level of stress, and many didn't think it was worth it."