Boston Local 1228 members working in sports television are the first broadcast members in the country to have the National Electrical Benefit Fund and the National Electrical Annuity Plan included in their new collective bargaining agreement.

Boston Local 1228 members working in sports television have successfully negotiated for the National Electrical Benefit Fund and the National Electrical Annuity Plan to be included in a new collective bargaining agreement, making them the first broadcast members in the country to have these sought-after benefits.

Camera operator Noah Brookoff covers the annual Boston Pops 4th of July Spectacular for Local 1228 signatory Remote Facilities.
Assistant Business Manager and lead negotiator Steve Katsos, working above as an audio assistant at Fenway Park, researched IBEW agreements for years and made it a goal for Local 1228 to be the first broadcast local to have a defined-benefit pension for his fellow members.
Camera operator Rafael Figuereo Jr. and utility technician Angel Figueroa work in the rain at Gillette Stadium to provide the best viewing experience for NFL fans.

"These historic wins were achieved by the tenacity and hard work of Brother Steve Katsos and his steadfast negotiating team," Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer said. "I couldn't be prouder of what they accomplished."

Katsos, an assistant business manager and lead negotiator for the contract with Program Productions, one of the largest employers in New England sports TV, had been looking to bring a defined-benefit pension to his members for years.

"Other IBEW agreements across the country that I looked at had an annuity or a 401(k), but no one had the defined-benefit pension," Katsos said. "I made it a goal for us to be the first local to get one added to our sports CBAs."

Katsos had conversations with business managers, Second District International Representative Ed Starr and Second District International Vice President Mike Monahan to see what could be done. He also started building a relationship with Program Productions to set the stage for future negotiations. It was rocky at first, Fischer said, but after about five years, things started to change. Program Productions has since become the crewer with the most work for Local 1228's sports TV members.

"I wanted to prove to our members that a good, respectful partnership with the employer would bring us an amazing contract, and it did," Katsos said. "Negotiations were respectful on both sides."

The benefits, which went into effect April 1, are in addition to a flex medical plan and the Entertainment Industry 401(k) that members were already receiving through previous CBAs. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor, with 121 for the contract and only four against.

"I felt very happy when I saw that the pension and annuity was finally in effect," said Joe Kwan, who works as a utility technician. "It's great knowing that we have another benefit for life after retirement."

Local 1228 represents over 200 members working in sports television. Since ratification of the first contract with the pension and annuity, Katsos said, it has gone on to secure the new benefits in five additional contracts, covering all sports and entertainment members.

"This is a game-changer for our members and all of the broadcast locals throughout the country that have crewing contracts," Fischer said. "We hope that other markets can get these into their agreements, as well."

Local 1228 represents sports members working in New England across six local companies, as well as CBS Sports and Fox Sports under national agreements. Members work in 40 roles ranging from audio engineer to video technician to production assistant and graphics operator.

Local 1228 Vice President Tom Kruc, a replay edit operator, has been working on television productions for the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics for over 25 years. He said he's very pleased with the new retirement additions.

"Having a reliable source of income for retirement has truly transformed my financial well-being," Kruc said. "It's provided a sense of security for my family's future."

Next up, Katsos said, is to help secure a pension and annuity for other sports members across the country.

"I feel proud that we have left a legacy for the Boston market," said sports steward Rick MacLeod, who works as a camera operator. "Hopefully more of our brothers and sisters will get this benefit. That's the solidarity that the IBEW is all about."