September 30, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—After replacing a unionized subcontractor with an in-house nonunion workforce almost 11 years ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled recently that CNN must reinstate technicians and broadcast engineers with the Communications Workers of America. But CNN wants to appeal the decision in a federal district court.
Members with the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA Local 11 protested CNN’s decision to appeal outside its offices on Friday afternoon near Columbus Circle.
In the accompanying video interview, we spoke with NABET’s president, Thomas Cappo, about the long-standing legal battle with CNN to reinstate CWA members in the company’s Washington, D.C. and New York City offices.
“About 11 years ago, CNN threw out our union employees. They claimed they were subcontractors. So after 11 long years of battling, the NLRB finally ruled that the technicians and engineers were displaced and are entitled to get their jobs back,” said Cappo. “They are entitled to back pay and the union is entitled to back dues. It’s a very big win for us, but unfortunately CNN is appealing [the decision] in the U.S. District Court of Appeals.”
According to the NLRB ruling of September 15, 2014 (cases 05-CA-031828 and 05-CA-033125), the three-member panel agreed with administrative law judge Arthur J. Amchan who ruled in November 2008 that CNN violated the National Labor Relations Act by terminating labor contracts with subcontractors that recognized the union, failing to bargain with the union about the effects of that decision, making coercive statements, implementing a hiring plan to avoid bargaining with the union and for unilaterally changing employees’ terms and conditions of employment.
We asked Cappo what happens now that CNN is appealing the decision.
“CNN has two shots. The first one is the U.S. District Court of Appeals and the second one would be the Supreme Court should they lose the appeal in the district court. However, that’s a hard mark to make. The ruling is pretty strong, so we’re hopeful that at least they will lose in the district court,” Cappo said.
Richard Uhoda used for CNN before he was locked out. He said the NLRB decision is long overdue.
“I was let go, locked out basically along with 51 percent of the people that I was working with in the union. I hope they lose the appeal so we can get our jobs back,” said Uhoda.
We also talked with Chris Shelton, CWA District 1’s Vice-President, who also is confident that CNN will lose the appeal.
“We don’t believe that they will be successful before the courts, just as they weren’t before the NRLB,” said Shelton.