Chicago’s WMAQ Braces for NABET Boycott

By Andrew Gauthier 

Chicago Sun-Times

As if NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 didn’t have enough ratings-related problems already, the station now must contend with a boycott organized by local membership of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.

Among other things, the union has paid for bus boards that carry the message “NBC 5 is bad news for its workers. Turn off Channel 5,” and it is encouraging all NABET members and union sympathizers to avoid watching the station.


“We don’t comment on labor-related issues,” said a WMAQ spokeswoman.

The union is not happy with the way WMAQ management has handled some 20 of its members. As of July 27, those 20 WMAQ staffers ceased to be part of the union and were technically reclassified as station management, exempt from union jurisdiction. Ray Taylor, Chicago-based president of NABET Local 41, said the 20 staffers were primarily writers and editors. After the 20 staffers exited the union, only 46 NABET members remained at WMAQ.

Taylor believes the move to change the status of a number of newsroom editors and newswriters is part of WMAQ’s and parent NBC’s efforts to cut operating costs. More…