Strike two for CBS



CBS News writers authorized their union leaders to call a national strike, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced yesterday. 500 CBS News TV and radio writers in NY, LA, DC and Chicago have been working under an expired contract since 4/05. In a vote held last week, the WGA said 81% of the writers who participated gave WGA negotiators the power to call a strike. The workers involved in the dispute are writers for both the network news operation and local O&Os.

"Writers Guild members are sending their CBS bosses an irrefutable message of solidarity: we will do whatever it takes to get what we have earned and deserve," said Michael Winship, president of WGA East, in a statement.

The parties had not been at the negotiating table since January. In 11/06, the WGA rejected what CBS had called its final offer. The employees turned down a wage package that offered TV and network radio workers higher pay than local radio writers. The WGA also rejected CBS News to assign nonunion staff certain writing duties currently reserved for union employees. CBS argues that declining ad revenues at local radio stations means lower increases in employee pay.

TVBR/RBR observation: The strike is being labeled by some as a solidarity move with the current WGA writers strike for comedy and drama TV shows (add that to the Broadway/IATSE Local One strike and you’ve got a real mess on your hands in NYC traffic).

We wonder if this critical mass will cause the studios, production houses and network bosses to cave, or just fire them all and hire non-union folks. Almost impossible, but we wonder if it’s on the table right now high up in the top floor conference rooms. It would take a long time to hire non-union folks for all of those positions. In the meantime, we’d be watching a lot of British television and reality shows-everything from school-kid pranks to nursing home nightmares.