CBS News, WGA Reach Tentative Deal

CBS News reached a tentative agreement with Writers Guild of America news writers, the guild announced Wednesday.

The agreement, subject to ratification by the approximately 500 WGA East and West members covered by the contract, extends until April 2010 and includes a 3.5% pay increase upon ratification and again in 2009.

The WGA and CBS had been involved in a lengthy and at times contentious negotiation. The last WGA contract expired in April 2005.

“This has been a long struggle, but our members became mobilized and engaged in a way they have never been before," WGA East executive director Mona Mangan said in a statement. "This contract truly belongs to them."

The contract covers news and promotional writers, production assistants, graphic artists and researchers in CBS’ TV and radio operations in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

WGA said CBS dropped its demand for a two-tiered salary structure--a major sticking point with the union--which would have provided lower pay increases for local radio than for network TV and radio staffers--as well as its demand to have non-WGA employees at KNX radio perform duties currently performed by non-WGA members.

And if CBS decides to consolidate its operations, the union said, the new agreement provides for a 90-day review period during which that consolidation would be negotiated as part of the contract and, if agreement could not be reached, either party could make a case at the National Labor Relations Board.

“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 in a statement. "Our focus throughout the process has been on reaching a fair agreement, and we think this contract is good for both sides.”

ABC News staffers covered by WGA had been engaged in a similarly protracted contract dispute before resolving it in late November.

For full coverage of the strike, click here.