Workers at WGME-TV Begin Reaching Out to Public for Support

March 31, 2010 - Workers at WGME-TV have begun public demonstrations, re-launched a website that was first started four years ago, and have collected "fans" for a new Facebook page as they struggle to get a fair contract offer from the Portland television station. At the same time, IBEW Local 1837 has filed unfair labor practice charges against the Company with the National Labor Relations Board.

On Wednesday, March 17, both in the morning and early afternoon, workers from WGME-TV and their allies peacefully demonstrated in front of Northport Business Park on Washington Avenue in Portland, where the studios and offices of WGME-TV are located. During the demonstrations, WGME-TV managers drove by several times and took photographs of participants. The union believes that this constituted a deliberate, unlawful attempt at intimidation of workers exercising their legal right to publicly demonstrate. IBEW 1837 has filed amended unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board because of these actions.

The original charges were filed when IBEW Local 1837 determined that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and WGME-TV failed to live up to their obligations to bargain in good faith under the National Labor Relations Act. When they implemented parts of their “last and final offer” (including wage cuts) before reaching an impasse in contract negotiations with IBEW, and later also took steps to make the collection of union dues more difficult, they violated the rights of IBEW members at WGME-TV. The Union believes that the actions of the Company are unfair to IBEW members at WGME-TV, that they are illegal and constitute attempts to bust the union.

Throughout negotiations, Sinclair has insisted on “complete flexibility” in assigning bargaining unit work to non-bargaining unit employees, supervisors and managers, as well as future “discretion” in granting raises and changes in employee benefits. It is clear that Sinclair’s intention is to destroy the coherence and viability of the bargaining unit.

“We’re disappointed by Sinclair’s decision to do this to their workers at WGME 13,” said IBEW 1837 Business Manager Cynthia Phinney. “These folks give their all in what are often stressful jobs. By bringing news and public affairs to the local community, they provide an important public service. They deserve to be treated better than this.”

More information about the situation at WGME-TV can be found at and on a special page set up on Facebook: Workers at WGME 13 Deserve a Fair Contract. In just two weeks, the Facebook page had gathered more than 300 "fans."

IBEW 1837 is proud to represent most of the people who work behind the scenes at WGME 13. These broadcast professionals include the Operating Technicians, News Editors, Assignment Editors, Photographers, Engineers, Producers and Directors who create and produce a variety of news and public service programs, commercials and station promotional announcements. Our members have been recognized for their outstanding achievements in television by a diverse group of local, state, and national organizations of journalists and broadcasters.