300 Illegally Fired CWA Members Win Big vs. CNN

  NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (PAI)–After an 11-year legal struggle, prolonged by company obstruction, some 300 Communications Workers members, whom Cable News Network (CNN) illegally fired in an alleged 2003 “reorganization,” won big on Sept. 10.  One hundred will get their old jobs back and all will get millions of dollars in back pay, combined, the National Labor Relations Board ruled.


Not only that, but CNN must resume recognition and bargaining with the two union locals that represent the workers, whose jobs it outsourced in a clear case of anti-union “animus” (hatred), the NLRB declared.


“On behalf of our members in Washington, D.C., and New York City, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) is grateful for” the ruling, said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce.  “These workers waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities.  CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately” obey the board’s orders.


CWA President Larry Cohen said the workers would never have gotten justice without the concerted campaign, which his union led, to create a 51-group coalition to push for Senate votes on Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominees, especially those at the NLRB.


That campaign eventually forced a change in Senate rules, ending GOP filibusters against any presidential nominees, except Supreme Court justices, unless the promoters of such talkathons rounded up 50 senators, not 40.  The GOP routinely mustered at least 40.


“All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support Senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013,” Cohen explained.  The Senate rules change is part of the union’s Democracy Initiative, which has also attracted the other groups.


“Without a functioning NLRB this decision would never have been possible.  But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them,” Cohen added.


The struggle began in 2003, when CNN unilaterally ended its 20 years of technical subcontracting agreements with Team Video Services (TVS).  Team Video employed the unionized workers to produce many of CNN’s shows.  NABET-CWA filed unfair labor practice/ labor law-breaking charges with the NLRB, but CNN stalled an initial hearing for five years.


NLRB Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan, after a 72-day trial, ruled for the workers in 2008.  He ordered CNN to make the workers whole, bargain with the two NABET locals and restore jobs to 110 of them.  He criticized CNN for “widespread and egregious misconduct” and “a flagrant and general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”  He also issued a “cease and desist” order against any further CNN labor law-breaking.


The firm kept up its legal stalling, and last year, challenged the labor board’s authority to


even rule on the case, citing a federal court ruling that invalidated all NLRB rulings while Obama administration recess appointees – members the president named after the GOP filibusters – sat.  But after the filibusters were broken, and a full 5-member board seated, it ruled for the 300 NABET-CWA workers.


“Delays in the case took a terrible toll on workers who have lost their homes, gone bankrupt and struggled to pay their medical bills while they awaited justice.  And this reme-diation comes too late for a number of workers who have since passed away,” CWA said.