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Mark Connolly Takes A Bold Stand For Union Workers At WMUR

Last week we posted a story about how WMUR/ Hearst Television is refusing to negotiate with the members of IBEW local 1228 and are refusing add them to the pension system that other station workers already participate in. This contract negotiation dispute resulted in WMUR’s sponsorship of the NH Democratic Presidential debate. 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.”

This week, WMUR scheduled a Democratic Gubernatorial debate for next Tuesday night.  IBEW Local 1228 members are planning to hold an informational picket at WMUR’s Manchester studio the night of the debate.

Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released the following statement regarding the scheduled gubernatorial debate hosted by WMUR Manchester and its parent company, Hearst Television, Inc. 

“Though I appreciate the opportunity provided by WMUR/Hearst, I strongly believe that each and every worker in the Granite State deserves a fair wage and benefits, and I stand with the dedicated workers of IBEW Local 1228.

“These workers are committed to delivering important information to the people of New Hampshire on a daily basis, and I strongly support their right to a collectively bargained contract. 

“Without an agreement in place between WMUR/Hearst and Local 1228, I will not cross the picket line to participate in next week’s debate. I encourage the other candidates to take the same stand.”

After receiving the news, Fletcher Fischer, Business Agent for the IBEW 1228 who represents the Union Production Department at WMUR who are struggling for their first contract said that they “greatly appreciated” the statement of support from Connolly.

“We are hopeful that all New Hampshire candidates running for Governor and any other office feel the same and show support to the working men and women who don’t deserve this type of Corporate attack. All they did was exercise their American right to form a Union and did not expect this type of retribution from the Company they have served so loyally for years,” Fischer added.

Pat Devney, campaign manager for Colin Van Ostern also released a statement in support of the IBEW workers but did not state whether Van Ostern would also skip the debate.

“With a full seven days between now and the debate, we encourage WMUR/Hearst management to sit down with employees and make meaningful and long-overdue progress toward a fair employment agreement.”

“We will continue to monitor negotiations and sincerely hope that progress can be made toward an agreement so that voters will have the opportunity to hear from all candidates about how we can keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

At the time of publication Steve Marchand had not responded to my request for a statement.

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.

Is Hearst’s Anti-Union History Repeating At WMUR?

What’s the Agenda Behind the News and Entertainment You Watch?

IMG_2193Hearst Corporation is one of the largest media corporations in the world. It has ownership interests in 360 different businesses, including cable networks A&E and ESPN; 30 television stations that reach one in five American households; dozens of magazines; and even digital outlets such as BuzzFeed (which reaches 190 million unique visitors around the world each month). Hearst Television is “the largest ABC affiliate group” and “the second-largest NBC affiliate owner” – and it even owns two CBS-affiliated stations. When you stop and look, Hearst seems to be pretty much everywhere.

Hearst also has one of the longest histories of opposing labor unions, starting with the Newsboys Strike of 1899. In 1944, Hearst Publications went all the way to the Supreme Court trying to keep its employees from forming a union.

And it looks like Hearst is still fighting unionization today. A group of 20 WMUR employees voted to form a union last April – and it’s now December, and Hearst management still doesn’t want to negotiate with the union about workers’ retirement benefits.

Even after receiving letters from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Even after being contacted by Martin O’Malley’s campaign. Even after the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party removed WMUR as a sponsor of the December 19th presidential candidates’ debate, citing “WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228.”

Workers have a right to join together in a union.  Employers have the legal obligation to bargain – in good faith – with their employees’ union.

WMUR’s employees have decided to exercise their right to form a union. But it looks like WMUR management – following Hearst’s long history of fighting unions – is now refusing to allow those newly-unionized workers to keep their retirement plan.

Do you wonder if the anti-union agenda might be finding its way into the news and entertainment you watch?

Last year, Hearst Corporation “achieved record revenue and profit for the fourth straight year” – logging $10.3 billion in sales with profits benefitting the Hearst Family Trust. CEO Steven Swartz even sent out a “Thank you” letter celebrating employees’ “hard work and creativity.”

But that fourth-year-in-a-row CEO “Thank you!” is probably sounding pretty hollow to those 20 WMUR employees faced with losing their retirement plan.

Please sign this petition to tell CEO Swartz and the Hearst Family Trust to end their campaign against unions, and to negotiate fairly with the employees who helped the corporation make record-breaking profits.

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:

NH AFL-CIO LogoHooksett – 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.”

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)

O’Malley Stands In Solidarity With Workers of Local 1228

Martin O'Malley (Gage Skidmore)

Image by Gage Skidmore

MANCHESTER, NH — Today, O’Malley for President campaign manager, Dave Hamrick, spoke with Jeff Bartlett, General Manager of WMUR about the ongoing dispute between WMUR management and the workers of IBEW Local 1228.

Following that conversation, O’Malley for President NH State Director, John Bivona released the following statement:

“Throughout his career, Governor O’Malley has been a strong champion of organized labor and he stands in solidarity with the workers of Local 1228. While it is our hope that management and workers reach a fair and equitable settlement to this dispute before the debate on December 19, it is becoming more apparent that WMUR management does not intend to honor their commitment to negotiate with workers prior to the debate. 

“With that in mind, today, we are calling on all Democratic candidates for President to cease advertising on WMUR Channel 9 and Hearst stations until management begins negotiations with employees. The O’Malley campaign is also asking WMUR Channel 9 to not air any previously taped #FITN primary coverage including, ‘Candidate Cafe’ or ’10 Questions’ on their station until management begins negotiations with employees. Finally, we are calling on the DNC and NHDP to host a conference call with representatives from each of the campaigns to discuss plans should WMUR be removed as a debate sponsor. Voters of New Hampshire should not be penalized for WMUR management breaking their commitment to their workers.” 

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.

After Winning Union Election WMUR Production Assistants Begin To Negotiate Their First Contract

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

Editor’s Note: This is a letter to the editor from Brian Wilson. 

My name is Brian Wilson. I am a full-time “Production Assistant” (studio camera, teleprompter, video server and audio operator) at WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH. The station is owned by multi-national media giant, Hearst Corporation.

I am writing to inform you (and ask for your support of) an organizing effort that has been underway among a group of production employees at the station over the past 12-plus months.

On February 25th of this year, Directors/TDs, Production Assistants, and Graphic Designers at the station petitioned the NLRB seeking an election for union representation. After an attempt by the company to exclude workers it calls “freelancers” from the bargaining unit failed, the company agreed to an election.

About six weeks after the petition was filed, on April 6th, 2015, a group of 20 eligible workers voted 15-4 in an NLRB-conducted election to be represented by Local 1228 of the IBEW (the same union that already represents Videographers/Editors, Master Control Operators, and microwave/satellite truck operators at WMUR.)

On April 17th, 2015 the NLRB certified IBEW Local 1228 as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.

NLRB Case: http://www.nlrb.gov/case/01-RC-147033

The station and union have agreed to an initial bargaining session which has been tentatively set for early June.

Through collective bargaining, workers in this unit at WMUR are fighting to improve wages and working conditions, gain job security, and to stabilize and make uniform the conditions of employment which so often have been set in an arbitrary and unequal way.

These workers have seen the substantial improvements achieved by the other two bargaining units at the station and are striving to win a first contract that brings the same level of results.

These employees have also seen the financial success of the station, but do not feel that they have been given the opportunity to share in that success. They deserve fair compensation for their hard work and effort in helping to make WMUR as successful and profitable as it is.

I hope that you will support and stand with these workers and their families as they fight for fairness and to secure a place in a shrinking middle class.

Sincerely,

–Brian C. Wilson

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!

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