WGA Members Ratify CBSN Contract; First Union Agreement For A Live Streaming News Service

WGA East members employed at CBSN have unanimously ratified their first contract – the first ever at a 24/7 live anchored digital streaming news network. Launched in 2014 as an arm of CBS News, CBSN voluntarily recognized the union last year as the collective bargaining agent for its more than 65 writers, producers and graphic artists.

“CBSN represents the future of live news, and we are very pleased to have negotiated an excellent contract,” said Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director and chief negotiator. “Our hard-working and dedicated bargaining committee made a compelling case to management on all of the top priority issues. To the company’s credit, their negotiators and managers took these concerns seriously and agreed to provisions addressing all of them. This contract proves that a mobilized and engaged membership, and a tenacious focus on priority issues, can really make a difference in the workplace. Collective bargaining works.”

The new contract provides for across-the-board 3% annual pay raises, and what the guild calls “substantial improvements” in a wide range of economic and non-economic areas, including night shift differential, short turn-around pay, standby pay, and extra pay for long work weeks for all employees, as well as a series of upgrade payments for employees assigned to perform work ordinarily performed by people in higher-paid titles, extra paid days off, a system for getting paid for unused comp days, holiday pay, and substantial severance pay.

It also includes a commitment to recruiting a more inclusive workforce and a diversity committee to address these issues on a regular basis, plus committees to address working conditions and workload. Employees in the lower-paid classifications will receive time-and-a-half overtime plus penalties for working through meal periods. The agreement streamlines current job titles and includes clear job descriptions and minimum pay rates for all titles.

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“We are thrilled with our first union contract and proud of all our colleagues who stood together to win it,” the CBSN Bargaining Committee said in a statement. “We are also grateful for all the support from our fellow guild members at CBS and across the industry.”

The guild also thanked its members at CBS News’ broadcast operations, and the members who write dramas and comedies for the network who expressed solidarity with their colleagues at CBSN by signing petitions, visiting the shop, and tweeting their support.

In addition to CBSN, the WGA East represents newsrooms at the ABC News, CBS News, the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Dodo, Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, Future plc, Gimlet Media, G/O Media, HuffPost, The Intercept, MTV News, Refinery29, The Ringer, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, 1010 WINS, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), Thrillist, Vice, Vox Media and WBBM / CBS 2 News. The guild now represents nearly 6,000 writers in film, television, news and new media.

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