The boycott of Channel 5 is over as a result of IBEW Local 4 members voting July 11 to accept a compromise contract that creates a unique settlement in St. Louis that no other Gannett station has been able to achieve, Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast announced.
“It’s a compromise that recognizes the incredible technological changes in our industry and at the same time protects our members’ jobs and even opens up potential work for our members outside our normal jurisdiction,” he said.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CONTRACT
The new three-year agreement highlights include:
• An economic package comparable to those won at the other St. Louis television stations.
• Retroactive pay to Nov. 15, 2013 when the previous agreement expired.
• On the key issue of work jurisdiction, the union agreed that because of changing technology” others will now be allowed to do their work. However, if it happens, based on recent rules by the National Labor Relations Board, the union has the opportunity to demand that they become part of the Local 4 bargaining unit, which could actually increase the union’s membership.
“In terms of Local 4 membership, this change could well be an improvement over our previous contract. Only time will tell,” Pendergast said, acknowledging that the union must adapt to the incredibly fast pace of changing technology in their industry.
Local 4 members are broadcast television engineers, which includes technicians, photographers, editors and broadcast maintenance engineers.
• Guaranteed job security for all 40 Local 4 members ensuring that if others actually do some of their work, no Local 4 members will lose their jobs as a result.
• A unique benefit added to this contract allows Local 4 members with other skills to do other work they are qualified to do even if the work is outside the union’s normal jurisdiction. If this happens, the members still remain in the bargaining unit.
ST. LOUIS TREATED DIFFERENTLY
“There is no question that Gannett, for some reason, made a decision to St. Louis differently than their other stations in the country,” Pendergast said, reflecting on the fact that this contract is notably different in terms of protecting its members than any other in the country.
“We believe it’s a combination of several crucial factors,” Pendergast said, among them:
• COMMUNITY SUPPORT: the incredible support we’ve received from the St. Louis community to turn off Channel 5. The station’s viewership has dropped off substantially, knocking Channel off its number one position in ratings. As a result, advertising revenues have been severely impacted.
• UNION UNITY: The willingness of Local 4’s members to stand united over an extended period and not buckle under to Gannett’s relentless pressure.
• BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN: Unlike other locals who have already facing the same situation across the country, Local 4 decided to stand up against Gannett and launched a highly successful boycott/information campaign to inform the public about the station’s unfair proposals. The campaign included radio and billboard advertising as well as social media and extensive coverage in the Labor Tribune. The results were immediate as viewership plummeted.
With this new agreement, the campaign has ended.
“While no one will explain why the company suddenly changed its mind several weeks ago and came back to the bargaining table with a new proposal, we believe it’s a combination of these efforts that made this compromise settlement possible.”
“Compromise is the order of the day to survive, and our members understood that and reacted accordingly,” Pendergast said.
“The members of Local 4 want to thank the entire St. Louis labor community and the public-at-large for their outstanding support. Without it, we simply would have had a disastrous contract forced onto our members that would have ultimately destroyed our entire union. We’re committed to making this compromise work for our members and for the station,” Pendergast added.
See previous coverage:
- IBEW Local 4 fighting to save members’ jobs, prevent gutting of local news at Channel 5
- IBEW Local 4 launches major $100,000 community outreach effort
- IBEW Local 4 urges ‘Turn off Channel 5’ as full-scale boycott begins