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NESN Broadcast Technicians Benched For Unionizing

IBEW Local 1228 Fights Against Retribution

BOSTON, MA – New England Sports Network (NESN) and its new crewing company, Program Productions Incorporated (PPI) have devastated the incomes of their loyal workers by engaging in retribution in retaliation for unionizing.

Recently, NESN broadcast technicians across New England joined IBEW Local 1228 to create a collective voice to garner equal pay of those in similar positions working for other networks, much needed health benefits, retirement planning and safer working conditions.

NESN hired PPI to staff the 2017 Red Sox season and crew members who have worked most of these games at Fenway Park for over twenty years found themselves being replaced. 

Five union organizers were clearly targeted to be relieved of work. When the IBEW fought PPI to get their NESN days back, they won, but then another change occurred. All 22 NESN technicians were forced to lose several games each month of the season, costing each worker thousands of dollars.

“Their loyalty to NESN, the Boston Red Sox, and the Boston Bruins, is now being paid back with lost work and wages, threatening the income of their families. It’s retribution for these men and women who simply wanted health care and fair pay. The loss of wages, up to $3000 per month for some families, is staggering,” said Fletcher Fischer, Business Manager of IBEW Local 1228.

Steven A. Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, remarked that “It’s ironic that NESN has demanded loyalty from these broadcast technicians for over two decades, and now they are punishing people for wanting a union contract to provide for their families, and to secure health care and retirement benefits for the first time ever. The baseball players, umpires, ticket sellers, food service employees, electricians, police, fire, and emergency medical personnel who work at Fenway Park all have contracts. Broadcast technicians deserve no less.”

PPI’s defense has been to not acknowledge that technicians have been targeted and have suggested that NESN executives had asked to “increase the diversity / depth of the crew.”

Fletcher Fischer responded, “We have offered to work with them to bring true diversity to their broadcasts and they have refused all of our offers. We are calling on PPI and NESN to restore the technicians to their normal schedules of the last twenty years.”

“It’s hard to believe that the technicians who bring Red Sox Nation and Bruins fans their games have worked with no health benefits and no retirement plans for so long,” said Richard Rogers Secretary -Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council. “I urge NESN and PPI to stop the retribution. It’s time to restore the games to the technicians who have faithfully brought us our sports broadcasts for the past twenty years.”

WMUR Still Refuses To Negotiate With Unionized Workers, NH Dems Plan To Boycott Debates

Fair Contract With WMUR

WMUR Local 1228 members at an informational picket in 2015

NH Democrats boycott of WMUR sponsored debates unwavering 

WMUR Channel 9 studio staff Directors and Production Technicians formed a Union to improve their wages and working conditions at the Hearst owned station back in April of 2015 and have been trying to bargain their first Contract ever since. The Union has proposed either leaving the workers in the pension they are in or moving them to the Hearst Union Pension Plan that 12 other WMUR employees are already in. The company is refusing to do that simply because they formed a Union.

After months of negotiations WMUR refused to include the workers in their pension.  The union began to call for help from some powerful allies.

By the end of 2015, the First in the Nation Primary was really heating up in New Hampshire as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were battling for the top spot in the coveted NH Primary.  The two were set to face off in a WMUR sponsored debate on December 19th when Clinton, O’Malley, and Sanders heard about the struggles of the WMUR workers.  All three sent letters to Jeff Bartlett, WMUR’s station manager, urging them reopen negotiations with the IBEW Local 1228 workers.

IBEW Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer said,  “We want to thank both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns for their support so far, and look forward to their continued efforts to help our workers hold onto what they already have. We are simply asking for status quo pension conditions. For these talented, dedicated and loyal workers, this is a giant slap in the face.”

Then Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, chair of the Democratic National Party, contacted WMUR where WMUR/Hearst lied to her about who was failing to negotiate.  She was told that the union, not WMUR/Hearst was refusing to negotiate before the debate.

“I find it unbelievable that WMUR/Hearst lied to Debbie Wasserman Schultz about our willingness to settle this contract since they have little or no regard for workers who just want to keep the pension they already have”, Fischer said.

All of the candidates and the DNC agreed to boycott the debate unless WMUR was removed as a sponsor of the debate and agreed to negotiate with the newly elected union.

ABC and Hearst caved to the DNC. “As a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate,” said Wasserman-Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

“WMUR management’s refusal to meet in good faith with its employees stands in gross violation of that principle so I’m pleased that DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and N.H. Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley have taken this step,” stated IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson 

After the debate was concluded the members of IBEW Local 1228 did meet with WMUR but still could not reach an agreements.  Now nearly 10 months later, and well over 15 months since they started negotiating, there still is no contract.

Today, the NH Democratic Party reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the WMUR workers, by continuing to boycott WMUR sponsored debates.

“We told WMUR Station Management earlier this year that New Hampshire Democratic candidates would not participate in WMUR sponsored debates as long as the negotiations between the Union Production workers and Hearst were not resolved.” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We have not changed our position and the station knows it.”

Hearst media is well known for their strong anti-union stance going all the way back to the Newsboys strike of 1899.  They continue to punish workers who elect to unionize.

“Hearst hasn’t allowed a bargaining unit of reporters in Pittsburgh who unionized in 2012 into their Union pension plan, and are still fighting for their first contract. Hearst says they’re not about to do it for the WMUR production workers.” said Fletcher Fischer, Business Manager of IBEW Local 1228 who represents the workers.

Hearst and WMUR are raking in millions as they refuse to add the 12 unionized employees to their already existing pension plan.

Screen ShotA report by Ad Age (analysis of data from Kantar Media’s CMAG — see attachment) showed that WMUR has either sold or has scheduled $34,768,054.00 in political advertising. They are number one in the top ten stations for money spent and/or booked on presidential campaign ads to date (from April 5, 2015 through Nov. 7, 2016) as of June 2016.

“Despite these tens of millions in revenue to Hearst owned WMUR, the Hearst Company is trying to steal the pensions of 10 workers who make the product that generates the ad revenues. This is nothing short of cruel corporate greed and overt union busting.” said Glen Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Local 1228 also represents the Photographers, Master Control Operators and Live Truck Operators at WMUR. “The production workers are thankful that the New Hampshire Democrats for standing up for working people in the state against the Hearst money machine. It would be refreshing if the Republican candidates would do the same. After all, if the Contract is not settled in a month or so, Republican candidates will have to debate on whatever station the Democrats contract with.” said Fischer.

WMUR has long been the station of record for political coverage in New England, but Hearst’s stand against their workers has given the station a black eye. In December of 2015, the Democratic National Committee removed them as a sponsor of the Democratic Presidential debate in Manchester. To date, there have been no WMUR sponsored or broadcast political debates.

The IBEW informed us that as of today, no bargaining dates are scheduled. The Company said they would not be available throughout August.

IBEW Local 1228 Endorse Bernie Sanders Citing Opposition To Hearst Corp’s Anti-Union Agenda

Members encourage everyone to vote for Bernie Sanders

Members of IBEW Local 1228 voted to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders in his campaign for President in the Democratic primary at their last Local Union meeting, citing his continued commitment to fighting corporate greed. 

“Bernie has consistently fought for working families and for the right of workers in all occupations to form and join unions. It’s time for union families to mobilize across the country and help him restore the middle class. Like our forefathers who rejected Colonial rule against great odds, this is our time to stand up to power and greed,” saidLocal 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer.

IBEW Local 1228 has represented workers in the broadcast news and sports industries throughout New England since 1941.

Fletcher Fischer and Senator Bernie Sanders

Fletcher Fischer and Senator Bernie Sanders

“Bernie has a lifetime commitment to fighting corporate greed. He has stood with members of this Local Union since 1979, from our strike at Vermont PBS to our current struggle with the Hearst Corporation in New Hampshire. Hearst is trying to steal pensions from eleven WMUR workers while reaping billions in profits. This is such an obscene example of corporate greed”, said Fischer.

In December, members of IBEW Local 1228 stood outside of WMUR studios in an informational picket prior to Sanders arrival. The union wanted Sanders to sit down with the station manager Jeff Bartlett and schedule more timely negotiations in an effort to resolve their dispute before the WMUR Democratic Debate in mid-December.

Bernie Sanders meets with members of the IBEW local 1228 on Dec 4 2015

Bernie Sanders meets with members of the IBEW local 1228 on Dec 4 2015

Sanders did meet with Bartlett, and during that meeting Bartlett agreed to set up more timely negotiations.  However WMUR/Hearst recanted and refused to move up their negotiations.  The failure of WMUR/Hearst  to schedule more timely negotiations prompted action by the DNC to pull WMUR’s sponsorship of the debate.

The members of Local 1228 are calling on everyone to join them in voting for Bernie Sanders on Feb 9th.

“I am encouraging all of our members throughout New England to ask their family, friends and neighbors to support Bernie. He is the spark of the political revolution that will put the power back in the hands of the people and make the middle class thrive once again,” added Fischer.

DNC and NH Democratic Party Pull WMUR Sponsorship Of Debate Over Labor Dispute

Generic-News-9-Image-updateWASHINGTON – Following WMUR’s decision to not move negotiations forward with IBEW Local 1228 ahead of next Saturday’sDemocratic debate, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley issued the following joint statement:

“The DNC and the NHDP are excited about next Saturday’s Democratic presidential candidates debate in New Hampshire, and look forward to a spirited performance by all of our candidates.

Regrettably, as a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate, and their talent will not be participating in any way.

The right for workers to form and organize a union is a key principle of the Democratic Party, and is key to ensuring the economic safety of the American people by protecting their rights and benefits. It is the right to organize that made it possible for the middle class in America to grow over the past century, and it is as important today as it has ever been to keep our economic growth as a nation moving forward.

We remain confident in our strong partnership with the ABC network and know that our Democratic candidates will have a robust debate, with a focus on the issues that matter most to hard working Americans across the country.”


Updates from WMUR, IBEW, and NH AFL-CIO below.


Jeff Bartlett, President and General Manager of WMUR-TV, issued this statement in response to the UNION LEADER:

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed that the efforts of the 140 WMUR employees in helping organize this debate will now be undone. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to cover the debate, and the candidates and campaigns. As for the negotiations with this particular union, we will continue with the policy we’ve followed with the many prior union negotiations we’ve successfully concluded – to negotiate in good faith, and directly and not through third parties.  To that end, we have a mutually agreed-upon date for another meeting, which has been scheduled and confirmed for some two weeks now.” 

It is unclear what future negotiations Bartlett is referring to. The fact is that no negotiations were scheduled prior to Senator Sander’s meeting with Jeff Bartlett on December 4th.


 IBEW Applauds DNC Decision to Drop WMUR Sponsorship of Next Debate

IBEW leaders are applauding the decision of the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party to drop television station WMUR as a co-sponsor of the next Democratic presidential debate scheduled for December 19.

“The right to collectively bargain has been a key part of every Democratic Party platform for more than a half a century,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.   “WMUR management’s refusal to meet in good faith with its employees stands in gross violation of that principle so I’m pleased that DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and N.H. Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley have taken this step.” 

Nearly two dozen members of IBEW Local 1228 have been resisting efforts to strip them of their retirement benefits. Management has ignored the union’s request for negotiations. 

All three Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders – have called on WMUR, which is owned by Hearst Media, to hold negotiations before the scheduled debate.

“We’re grateful for the support we’ve gotten from the DNC and from the candidates themselves,” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer. “We hope this puts us one step further towards a fair resolution of the issue.”

(This update is also a stand alone post via this link: http://wp.me/s2yHP6-50346)


The NH AFL-CIO Praises DNC & NHDP’s Decision To Pull WMUR Sponsorship 

New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett’s statement on DNC & NHDP’s decision to remove WMUR as a co-sponsor of the December 19th Democratic Debate in Manchester: 

Hooksett – Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO issued the following statement in support of the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s decision to remove WMUR as a sponsor of the December 19th Democratic Debate due to WMUR’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with their workers. 

“I am proud of our brothers and sisters of IBEW 1228 for standing up for their rights as WMUR workers. I am grateful to the DNC, New Hampshire Democratic Party, and the Presidential candidates for their decision to stand with New Hampshire workers and hold Hearst Corp. accountable for their refusal to negotiate in good faith with their employees. I would like to thank DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz and NHDP chair Ray Buckley for their support throughout this endeavor. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO would also like to thank Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley for the statement he released yesterday calling on WMUR to be removed as a sponsor of this debate. 

Although we regret the Hearst Corporation’s repeated unwillingness to move contract negotiations forward with their employees, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its fellow brothers and sisters in organized labor look forward to the upcoming debate and the opportunity to see three great candidates make their case to New Hampshire, and working men and women across the country.”

(Link)

Sen. Bernie Sanders Meets With Picketing WMUR Workers, Helps Broker A Deal To Reopen Negotiations

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Yesterday it was announced that unionized workers at WMUR would be picketing the arrival of Senator Bernie Sanders at the WMUR studios this morning.  True to their word, workers showed up holding signs stating the WMUR and Hearst Media Corporation are refusing to negotiate with the newly formed union.

Sources tell the NH Labor News that Senator Sanders arrived and met with the workers and asked what he could do to help them.  The union discussed, in great detail, what their issues are and that all they want is to get back to the negotiating table to resolve their contract dispute.

The main issue for the union is that WMUR and Hearst Media are refusing to negotiate the workers pension, saying the pension is “off the table” and have failed to schedule timely negotiations.

The union also asked for Senator Sanders to have a “sit down” with WMUR President and General Manager, Jeff Bartlett, to schedule more timely bargaining sessions and to have an open discussion about adding the 22 workers to the WMUR pension program already in effect for other WMUR employees.

Senator Sanders said he would go in to the WMUR studios and request a meeting with Bartlett.

IBEW 1228 Business Agent, Fletcher Fischer told us that he was pleased with the results of the informational picket.

“Senator Sanders was very helpful and we are grateful,” said Fischer.”Bartlett is now open to negotiating all of our issues.  We have provided him multiple dates within the next two weeks and now we are just waiting for the Hearst Corporation to meet with us.”

There is still the looming issue of whether or not Sanders and Hillary Clinton – who has previously voiced her support of the WMUR union members – will boycott the WMUR debate or if the DNC will pull WMUR’s debate completely if the contract dispute is not resolved by the December 19th debates. .

Images below curtesy of IBEW 1228. 

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WMUR Union Workers To Picket Arrival Of Senator Bernie Sanders At WMUR Studios, Tomorrow

Fair Contract With WMUR

IBEW Local 1228 members at the NH Democratic Party’s JJ Dinner last Sunday

Sen. Bernie Sanders is considered by many to be the true “labor supporter” among the Presidential primary candidates. Sen Bernie Sanders walked the picket line with workers in Iowa.  Last year, he joined FairPoint workers on the picket line during their months long strike.

WMUR Channel 9 studio staff Directors and Production Technicians formed a union to improve their wages and working conditions at the Hearst Corporation owned station. The Station is demanding these 22 workers lose their pension simply because they formed a union. There are already 12 other WMUR employees in a Hearst Union Pension Plan that these workers could be moved into, but WMUR and Hearst refuses. They insist on taking away the pensions of the people who put on their daily news shows every day of the year, some of them working for the station for 20 years or more.

In early November, Sanders sent a letter to Jeff Bartlett, President and General Manager of WMUR-TV, hinting that failure to reach an agreement with the IBEW local that represents WMUR production staff could be detrimental to the Presidential Debate that WMUR is sponsoring on December 19th.

IBEWLocal1228--WMUR--PressRelease--20151130

In the press release touting Sanders support the IBEW local 1228 stated:

“The Union is in talks with the Democratic National Committee to alert them to both the pension situation and the candidates’ positions of support. The Union is asking for the candidates and the Democratic Party to intervene with ABC to remove WMUR from sponsoring or having any other involvement with the debate, including pre and post-debate interviews.”

Considering that the debate is only two-weeks from Saturday, would this be considered a pre-debate interview?

Tonight the facebook page “Fair Contract with WMUR,” a page created by the WMUR union members, announced that they plan to picket the arrival of Senator Sanders for his “Political Up Close” interview.

Members of the IBEW Local 1228 will be picketing, at the arrival of Senator Bernie Sanders at WMUR-TV for the taping of Political Close Up. Tomorrow December 4th starting at 8:15 am, please join your brothers and sisters in their fight against Hearst Corporation and WMUR TV.”

What will Senator Sanders do?  Will he show up, meet with picketers and then refuse to be interviewed by WMUR until the station resolves this contract dispute?

Be at the WMUR-TV Broadcast Center, 100 South Commercial Street, at 8:15 on December 4, 2015, to see exactly what Senator Sanders will do.  


UPDATE: Click Here to read the follow up story on Senator Sanders meeting with IBEW members and working to bring both parties together

Sanders, Clinton Send Letters Of Support For WMUR Union Workers

Democratic Presidential Candidates stand up for WMUR workers who are losing their pensions as punishment for joining a Union IBEW Local 1228 calls for WMUR to be removed from any participation in December 19 Democratic Presidential Debate 

Manchester, NH — WMUR Channel 9 studio staff Directors and Production Technicians formed a Union to improve their wages and working conditions at the Hearst Corporation owned station. The Station is demanding these workers lose their pension simply because they formed a Union. There are already 12 other WMUR employees in a Hearst Union Pension Plan that these workers could be moved into, but WMUR and Hearst refuses. They insist on taking away the pensions of the people who put on their daily news shows every day of the year, some of them working for the station for 20 years or more.

“The Hearst Corporation makes millions and millions of dollars on political advertising at WMUR, yet they are trying to steal the pensions of the workers who make the product that generates the ad revenues. This behavior is disgusting and the purest form of corporate greed I have seen”, said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett.

IBEW Local 1228 reached out to the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns to support the cause of these workers, and both responded with letters to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett.  Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer said that “We want to thank both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns for their support so far, and look forward to their continued efforts to help our workers hold onto what they already have. We are simply asking for status quo pension conditions. For these talented, dedicated and loyal workers, this is a giant slap in the face.”

The union is in talks with the Democratic National Committee to alert them to both the pension situation and the candidates’ positions of support. The Union is asking for the candidates and the Democratic Party to intervene with ABC to remove WMUR from sponsoring or having any other involvement with the debate, including pre and post-debate interviews.

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WMUR TV Directors And Production Workers Are Still Fighting For Their First Contract

Ibew logo

Submitted by Brian Wilson

TV directors and production workers at WMUR, who voted to join IBEW 1228 in April, are facing strong opposition from station management in their attempt to win a fair, first contract. Thus far, the company has repeatedly refused to even discuss a wage proposal which was submitted by the union’s negotiating team back in July. It has sat on the table collecting dust ever since.

The station has also refused to discuss their position on the future of an existing pension plan which some workers have spent almost thirty years earning credit toward. The union has proposed nothing more than maintaining the existing pension, and has not asked for any expansion or increases.

It appears that the station seeks to punish its own workers for organizing by leaving their retirement plans hanging in the balance. This is unacceptable. Workers have a fundamental right to band together for their collective good, and their choosing to exercise that right is no excuse for the unabashed hostage-taking of their retirement plans, which they have spent their entire working lives building.

We ask for the support of not only the labor community, but of all those who know that if we allow the rights of workers to organize and bargain with their employer to be trampled upon, then we have allowed those workers’ voices to be silenced.

Please join us in urging the management of WMUR to effect a fair and swift resolution to this matter.

A Bargaining Update From WMUR Photogs (IBEW)

WMUR Photogs IBEW

We just received an update from Dan Ryan, one of the WMUR Channel 9 Photogs (IBEW) who currently are in contract negotiations with Hearst Communications, WMUR’s parent company. So far Hearst Communications is refusing to offer the same retirement package that all of the other WMUR employees receive.

We met with the company today. The company continues to deny the 13 photographers equal and fair treatment as they refuse to allow these employees to enjoy the same benefit package as the rest of WMUR’s union and non-union  employees. The company’s small counter offer would leave these photographers far behind the rest of their co-workers whom they work side by side with everyday.

    The 13 Photographers have voted unanimously to give the bargaining committee permission to seek strike authorization. The IBEW 1228 Photographers at WMUR are shocked that the company is so intent on continuing to punish these 13 photographers  for bringing the union into the building,

    All four major Democratic candidates that will be participating in debates on WMUR have sent a joint letter to management asking them to consider our concerns. The Photographers do not want to disrupt the Political Debates on WMUR but feel this is our only way to get the corporation to negotiate fairly.

The NHLN will continue to stand behind our IBEW brothers and sisters at WMUR.  We hope that contract talks will continue, and a strike can be avoided. However, if the time comes, we will be there to stand the line with you!

IBEW Photographers Terminate Contract with WMUR Over Fair and Equal Treatment.

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WMUR Photographers on the job at a local press conference

On Wednesday August 20th IBEW Local 1228 sent notice to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett that they were terminating the Contract effective August 30. The move was made so that the Photographers can legally launch a public awareness campaign and to engage in concerted actions if needed.

The Photographer/Editors have been in Negotiations with the Hearst owned WMUR since October of 2013and one of the main points of bargaining has been the pension plan that other Union and non-Union Employees enjoy at the Station.

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WMUR Photographers on the job during a snowstorm

“Since 2005, virtually all other Employees at WMUR have been allowed to participate in a 401K and a Pension Plan. All except for the Photographers. This is wrong and needs to finally be addressed.” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer. “All we are asking for is equal treatment for the Employees that capture and deliver the news, every day. But the Hearst Corporation who owns WMUR has consistently refused saying they ‘have no appetite for it’. How ridiculous. These Employees risk their physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire. They work side by side with first responders, shoot the video and edit these stories to inform and educate the citizens of New Hampshire. They generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and deserve equal treatment in retirement benefits.”

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WMUR Photographers on the job at a house fire

Hearst is one of the largest diversified communications companies in the world. Its major interests include 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers and more than 300 magazines worldwide; 29 television stations through Hearst Television, Inc., which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including A+E and ESPN. For the third year in a row, privately held Hearst is projecting record earnings, as well as record revenue of nearly $10 billion. Yet we have been told that they cannot afford to put 13 photographers into the Pension Plan that other Union members are in at the Station. It is unconscionable that such a wealthy corporation refuses to do the honorable thing and treat all their WMUR workers alike.

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