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December 2013

Calif. Broadcasting Pros Vote IBEW
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Tom Long hasn't had a raise in nearly three years.

As a photographer for Fox KTXL-TV in Sacramento, Calif., Long and his co-workers have watched as the station has invested in new vehicles, gear and even a new on-air set. At the same time, staff reporters and news photographers have worked increasingly grueling hours for the same pay in one of the region's most demanding markets.

But that's all about to change. Long and his co-workers voted overwhelmingly last July to join Hollywood Local 45. The new members are in negotiations with management on a first contract to cover more than three dozen employees at the station.

"Not all unions are created equal," said Long, who has been with KTXL for 14 years and was active in the organizing drive. Though employees considered talking with other unions over the past few years, "the IBEW was the best fit for what we were looking for and trying to do."

In May, employees reached out to Local 45 business representative/organizer Hugh McGuigan, who represents members in the northern part of the state. "These workers had their fill of all this mistreatment. They reached their threshold and wanted to do something about it, and they did," he said.

The union wage and benefit advantage became clear to the KTXL staff after networking with other IBEW broadcasting members in nearby markets. Once employees learned of the kinds of contracts their peers helped negotiate, a successful "yes" vote became a lock.

"They're significantly underpaid for what they do in the marketplace relative to other IBEW agreements," McGuigan said. "A lot of employers are able to keep their employees isolated or insulated from what goes on in other working environments. But when you have news photographers who mix with other news photographers from other stations on breaking news stories, they have the opportunity to talk and mingle."

And that's where McGuigan has helped create the kind of climate that can lead to successful organizing victories.

"All my stewards in this part of the state have my business card, and whenever they hear someone else from the industry talking about joining a union, they hand it out and say, 'Give this guy a call,'" he said.

Local 45 Business Manager Elaine Ocasio said that when broadcasting professionals are looking to organize, they often talk with other unions. "But the IBEW really is the best choice," she said.

"If you look at the quality of the contracts that we negotiate, we have fought to include things like seniority and just cause in ways that other unions haven't," Ocasio said. "People understand that. Plus, our word-of-mouth reputation is strong. We represent three other stations in Sacramento alone, so I'm sure that's why the Fox employees came to us to see what kind of deal they could get for their skills."

McGuigan said he anticipates a productive round of negotiations. "We've had continued support and input from these new members about the contract. I told the group from the get-go that this is their agreement. They've done a good job of coming forward and participating. They're a strong group, and they deserve a fair deal from their employer."

For more on KTXL-TV employees' efforts to gain a first contract, visit


New Hollywood Local 45 member Tom Long, left, with Business Manager Elaine Ocasio and business representative/organizer Hugh McGuigan

New IBEW Broadcasting Site A 'Virtual Hub' for Tech Pros

A new site,, is geared toward industry professionals.

With a history that dates back to the heyday of radio in the 1940s, the IBEW has been in the broadcasting business longer than almost any other organization of its kind.

Now, the union has launched a new Web site — — developed to help organize unrepresented camera operators, techs and anyone else looking to advance themselves in the industry.

"We have more than 300 contracts in place for our broadcasting members, many of whom have helped stations and networks win Emmys, Edward R. Murrow Awards and more at both the national and local level," said Martha Pultar, who directs the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Department. "We have a critical role and influence in the industry, and we have the backing of thousands of members in the business who will stand by their co-workers to help get them the fair treatment they deserve for their talent."

The site serves a dual purpose — to attract professionals who are looking for the security of a union-negotiated contract, and to establish a "virtual hub" of communication for existing IBEW members.

Visitors can get information about their legal rights to organize and learn about some of the typical roadblocks companies put up to silence workers. A news section serves up industry details and highlights members' successes, such as a recent profile of audio techs who captured their ninth Emmy Award for their coverage of NASCAR races. A secure forum allows visitors and members a venue to discuss industry happenings and get quick feedback from IBEW representatives about how joining together with their co-workers can yield tangible benefits.

"If there is one thing the Internet and social media have helped us do, it's connect people over vast distances," said Neil Ambrosio, an International Representative from the IBEW's Broadcasting and Telecommunications Department.

Due to the unique nature of the industry, IBEW broadcasting techs frequently live far away from their home locals. Ambrosio, for example, is a member of Washington, D.C., Local 1200 but lives in Florida.

Learn more at