Union members urged to express displeasure to station, willingness to change stations if necessary
By ED FINKELSTEIN
KSDK-TV, Channel 5 bills itself as the station “Where the news comes first.” Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the station’s attitude toward its union employees.
Gannett-owned KSDK has demanded IBEW Local 4 broadcast engineers allow the company to outsource their work at the company’s will.
Local 4 is currently working an extended contract that expires this Sat., March 15. The original pact expired last November but the union agreed to a company-requested extension.
Despite the union’s willingness to offer compromises to help meet the changing electronic landscape television faces from a growing mobile device and Internet culture, the company has flatly said “NO” to compromise, demanding the union allow KSDK to assign Local 4’s work to anyone, including outside subcontractors.
“They want us to relinquish any claim of the traditional work we do,” said Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast, “and to allow them to use outside workers or vendors to do our work as they see fit. They want no restrictions on who can do our work.
“That puts the jobs of 50 veteran, loyal, hard working men and women and their families at stake.”
MEANWHILE, GANNETT’S REVENUES RISE
Last month, the Huffington Post reported “excluding political advertising, Gannett’s broadcast revenues from its TV stations jumped 23 percent, helped by the closing of its $1.5 billion acquisition of Belo Corp. in December. With the deal’s closing, Gannett owns 36 TV stations and provides services for another four.”
UNANIMOUS STRIKE VOTE
To make the point that the union is serious about defending its work, the members gave the negotiating committee a unanimous vote authorizing a strike if needed to bring reasonableness to the bargaining table.
Despite the union’s understanding of the new electronic age they are working in, and their willingness to consider changes to meet new challenges, the company’s only response is “trust us, we’ll take care of your people” but the company refuses to discuss any specifics of what that might mean, Pendergast told the Labor Tribune.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The small local is asking readers to clearly and loudly express their disdain of this outrageous demand by Channel 5 that will ultimately put veteran engineers out of work by writing, calling or emailing Station Manager Marv Danielski:
• Call: (work) 314-444-5271 or better yet, his cell: 314-452-6471.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Write: Marv Danielski, Station Manager, KSDK-TV, 1000 Market Street, St. Louis, MO, 63101.
OTHER STATIONS AVAILABLE
While Local 4 is NOT calling for any kind of a boycott, at least not for now, Pendergast reminded everyone there are quality options available for TV viewing and news, notably Channels 2 and 4.
He suggested that you remind Danielski of this when you contact him.
THE BEGINNING OF TREND?
Pendergast said that in negotiations, he was told that this would be the trend for Gannett across the nation where they have unionized stations.
IBEW Local 4 members are broadcast television engineers, including technicians, photographers, editors and broadcast maintenance engineers.
Channel 5 won’t answer the hard question
In expressing displeasure with Channel 5’s negotiating intransigence, Labor Tribune Publisher Ed Finkelstein emailed a complaint to station manager Marv Danielski.
Replied Danielski: “Thank you for your note. It is appreciated, since we always have the best interest of our audiences and our employees in mind.”
To that canned, bland reply Finkelstein emailed back:
“…please explain how your offer to your loyal Local 4 men and women is in the ‘best interests’ of your employees? When you put their jobs at risk, when you have the authority to job out their work at will, please tell me how that’s in the ‘best interests’ of your employees?”
Danielski’s reply: SILENCE.
Does that tell you something?