The 23-member AFTRA-represented news air staff of Hearst’s WTAE-TV Pittsburgh is trying to get a new contract with the station, and say they are not being treated on par with Hearst journalists at other stations. The staffers are enlisting public support, while station management insists it is bargaining in good faith.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the feeling is that the station, which dropped AFTRA membership many years ago and rejoined in 2010, is contractually behind the deals offered to Hearst stations in other markets, including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Boston, New Orleans and Omaha.
Employees have a number of grievances, and many of them involve scheduling. They say scheduled vacations are trampled on, and they are subject to last-minute changes, sometimes simply so the station can avoid paying overtime rates.
The staff has set up a Facebook page, where they say, “For more than a year, reporters and anchors seeking a contract through collective bargaining at WTAE-TV (Channel 4) have been stonewalled by owner Hearst-TV. Hearst still refuses employee proposals for basic standards like a minimum salary scale and overtime pay. Join the campaign!”
They use their wall to post shots at the station such as:
“As we head into the holidays, think about how you would feel if your employer told you your pre approved, scheduled in advance time off for the holidays was cancelled?”
“What do you say to a company that won’t even let their employees’ union bargainers into the building for negotiations?”
Station management told PG that WTAE values its employees and is willing to negotiate in good faith toward a strong common future.
Staffers, however, think the station is taking advantage of the hiatus in AFTRA representation at the station, and that the discrepancy between the WTAE contract and those at other stations is the fact that the others were renewals, whereas WTAE is starting again from scratch.