IBEW Members at Portland TV Stations Narrowly Ratify New Contract

April 16, 2015 - A 3-year contract agreement has been ratified by IBEW Local #1837 members working at WGME and WPFO in Portland, Maine. The margin in favor of the new deal with the Sinclair Broadcast Group was the tightest in the union’s history at the CBS affiliate.

“It was clear from the discussions we had with members that most of them were very dissatisfied with the contract package,” IBEW 1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers said. “I think that a narrow majority just felt that the Union Negotiating Team had probably gotten the best deal they could get from this company.”

The union represents 50 photographers, producers, directors, operating technicians, video editors and maintenance engineers at the stations. There was 100% member turnout for the contract meetings and ratification vote.

One of the most contentious issues was the Company’s insistence on unilateral discretion in the assignment of shifts in most job classifications. Previously, seniority had played a much larger role among workers qualified to perform a job. Negotiators were able to craft language which will provide  protection against “arbitrary or capricious” assignments and the Union will be vigilant in holding the Company to that standard.

Another sticking point was a Company proposal to use non-union workers to perform some bargaining unit work. The Union insisted on language providing job security and preventing the erosion of union positions at the stations.

The negotiations took place as Sinclair and other broadcast companies have experienced significant growth in revenues from political advertising. Although top scale employees will receive a 3% wage increase this year, the second and third years of the agreement will only have 1% increases. Non-top scale workers will receive wage adjustments and continue to receive step increases.

“As always, I’m grateful to our Union Negotiating Team, especially our Chief Steward Jack Amrock,” Rogers said. “They’re not very happy with this agreement but their hard work helped make what would have been a terrible deal something that most of our members could live with.”

Joining Rogers and Amrock on the union side of the bargaining table were Bill Pavlisko, Joel Messer and IBEW 1837 Organizer Matt Beck.