CBS Strikes Deal with IBEW

CBS has struck a deal with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to extend their contract for three years, including helping find work for IBEW members in CBS' growing multiplatform businesses.

It is an early renewal for a contract that didn't expire until July 31, 2007. That is in sharp contrast to CBS' ongoing contract dispute with the Writers Guild of America, which is approaching two years withou a resolution.

The IBEW deal, covering camera operators, soundpeople, editors and maintenance technicians in news, sports, entertainment, stations and operations, gives those workers a 3% pay boost in each of the first two years and 3.5% in the final year.

It also includes CBS' promise to "actively look for opportunities to assign IBEW technicians to perform work for the Internet and emerging media. CBS says it has alraady done so by using some IBEW workers at a new facility it is creating in L.A. to distribute content via Qualcomm's new wireless mobile video service, MediaFLO.

A number of unions are concerned that contracts written before the explosion of alternate delivery platforms could potentially leave their members out of the loop.

IBEW President Edwin Hill, sounded happy with the deal: "This early agreement exemplifies the solid working relationship that CBS management and the IBEW-represented workers have developed," he said in a statement. "Through the terms of this contract extension, we will continue to work together on this path of success and pursue opportunities in emerging new media that will benefit both our members and CBS.”

CBS President Leslie Moonves seconded the notion. "This is a forward-thinking agreement with one of the key unions in our industry,” he said in announcing the deal.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.