WGAE Strikes First Contract with Anchored Streaming News Service

(Image credit: CBSN)

The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) said it has negotiated the first contract with CBSN, which the guild said marks the first anchored live streaming service to be unionized.

The agreement was unanimously ratified by more than 65 staffers in the guild-represented CBSN employee bargaining unit and appears to be a major "payoff" as it were, for the bargaining unit's efforts, starting with a 3% raise per year for all unionized CBSN staff.

According to WGAE, the agreement also includes substantial salary "improvements" for "short turn-around pay, standby pay, and extra pay for long work weeks for all employees," as well as upgrades for "employees assigned to perform work ordinarily performed by people in higher-paid titles, extra paid days off, a system for getting paid for unused comp days, holiday pay, and substantial severance pay."

And there was more.

The agreement includes recruiting a more diverse workforce, including creating a diversity committee and committees looking into working conditions and workloads.

"Employees in the lower-paid classifications will receive time and a half overtime plus penalties for working through meal periods," said WGAE, adding: "The agreement streamlines current job titles and includes clear job descriptions and minimum pay rates for all titles."

“CBSN represents the future of live news, and we are very pleased to have negotiated an excellent contract," said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson, who was the chief negotiator and gave a shout-out to the other side. "Our hard-working and dedicated bargaining committee made a compelling case to management on all of the top priority issues," he said, adding: "To the company’s credit, their negotiators and managers took these concerns seriously and agreed to provisions addressing all of them."

Unionized CBS News broadcast operations and drama and comedy writers all expressed solidarity with CBSN colleagues, said WGAE, including signing petitions and tweeting their support.

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.