New Contract at WPIX

4-Year Agreement Reached Despite Tribune Bankruptcy


Guild Members at WPIX last week ratified a new four-year pact with the Tribune Co.-owned television station that provides a 1 percent lump sum payment in January 2010, and 2 percent wage increases on January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012. 

With Tribune Co. in bankruptcy, WPIX management came to the bargaining table seeking concessions. But the Guild was still able to achieve some improvements in the new agreement, which runs through December 31, 2012, while beating back the company's giveback demands.

Benefit improvements include the introduction of CWA-sponsored health care and short-term disability plans. The new plans take effect January 1, 2010 and provide better benefits than the current company-sponsored plans. The new health care plan will reduce co-pays, deductibles and out-of pocket maximums, saving members money when they need medical services. The new short-term disability plan ensures that members who are unable to work because they are sick or incapacitated receive 60 to 75 percent of regular pay for up to 26 weeks. Nonunion employees get just 40 percent of regular pay.

"Adopting these plans gives the union more control of our members' benefits," said New York Guild Representative Anthony Napoli, who led bargaining for the Guild. "The company won't have the ability to unilaterally slash benefits or increase our members' out-of-pocket expenses to cut costs."

The Guild was also able to reduce trial periods to three months for both new and promoted employees. Funeral leave was improved with the addition of domestic partners to the list of "immediate family" for whose death employees are entitled to paid leave.

Bill O'Meara, president of the New York Guild, said "Given today's economic climate and the additional challenges of negotiating with a company in bankruptcy, I am especially pleased we were able to avoid concessions and achieve improvements that will provide better benefits and save our members money during these trying times."

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