Is TEGNA Playing Hardball With KGW Unions?

By Kevin Eck 

The unions representing workers at Portland NBC affiliate KGW are claiming station owner TEGNA is trying to bring in cheaper non-union labor.

GoLocalPDX reports TEGNA wants to get rid of the jurisdiction clause in the union contracts so it can fire employees hired as union members and replace them with non-union employees.

SAG-AFTRA, IATSE Local 600 and IBEW Local 48 say if TEGNA gets what it wants, “it could prove disastrous for the people of Portland.”

Dave Twedell, business representative for IATSE Local 600 and the coalition’s spokesman, told GoLocal that a change to the jurisdiction clause would pave the way for the station to diminish the quality of news by using work from non-professionals.

“When there are floods, fires or other natural disasters, civil unrest, whatever the situation, the news provides a public service, it’s the best way for people to find out what is going on and for public officials to get information out,” Twedell said. “It becomes a matter of public safety. If there are amateurs producing that content, that information is more likely to be incorrect or cause a public safety issue.”

TEGNA told TVSpy, “KGW is committed to serving the Portland community with award winning news and information, just as they have for nearly 60 years. We are seeking an agreement that will position us to continue to be a leader in today’s very dynamic multi-media market. The parties continue to negotiate in good faith. We are hopeful that agreements will be reached with each of our unions.”

The unions also claim TEGNA may sell off KGW’s airwaves in the upcoming Incentive Auction. They’re calling TEGNA a speculator and held a town hall least night to warn viewers.