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CBS, WGA reach a tentative agreement on news staffers

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The Writers Guild of America announced today that it had reached a tentative agreement with CBS on a new contract for more than 500 news writers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, promotion writers and researchers who work for the network’s television and radio operations.

The CBS employees, who are based in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, have worked without a contract since April 2005. Negotiations had been stalled since November 2006, and less than two months ago, employees voted to authorize a strike, although the union never called for one.

The new four-year contract, which still must be approved by the guild’s membership, grants the CBS employees two 3.5% raises in the next two years. (Most employees will also receive an additional one-time payment of $3,700.) The union had been seeking a 3% raise each year, as well as retroactive pay, which it did not receive.

But the guild succeeded in getting CBS to drop its efforts to create a two-tiered salary scale that would have meant lower wage increases for local radio employees than for television and network radio staffers. The network also withdrew its demand to merge guild and non-guild newsrooms, the union said.

“We’re happy,” said Mona Mangan, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “We’re just sorry it took so long to get to the final deal. The company wanted things from us that were almost impossible.”

CBS released a statement saying it was also pleased.

“We are gratified that a tentative agreement has been reached so that CBS and its valued WGA news employees can put this chapter behind us,” the network said. “Our focus throughout the process has been on reaching a fair agreement and we think this contract is good for both sides."

More news on the strike

-- Matea Gold

 
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