Two Philadelphia Unions Using the Pope for Bargaining Power

By Kevin Eck 

Photographers and technicians at two Philadelphia stations say they may strike before Pope Francis comes to town.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, employees represented by IATSE Local 804 at CBS-owned KYW have not set a specific strike date, but those represented by IBEW Local 98 at NBC-owned WCAU have set a strike date of September 21. The Pope comes to Philadelphia next Saturday, September 26.

“Very rarely do we have any advantage in negotiations,” a source told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “With the Pope coming, we have a little. So we are going to use any advantage we can get. [CBS3 management] have made all these changes. There are hiring anchors and firing anchors. We just sort of feel ignored in all this.”

Both unions said they are using Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia next week as leverage in negotiations, as neither station wants to be without so many key employees while the historic event takes place.

A source with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 804 that represents the CBS3 photographers and technicians said the vote conducted Tuesday was 57-5 in favor of a strike. The contract expired July 15 and the IATSE employees have been working under the terms of the pre-existing deal since that time.

The main sticking point, the source said, is salary increases, with management offering 2 percent bumps and the union angling for 3 to 3.5 percent raises.

“NBC10 is committed to continue to negotiate in good faith with the IBEW to achieve a mutual resolution of our outstanding issues,” a WCAU spokesperson told TVSpy. “We will work tirelessly so that there will be no impact on our viewers, who will continue to have access to all of our local news and information without interruption.”

KYW told TVSpy, “We look forward to reaching a fair and mutually beneficial agreement with our IATSE employees as soon as possible.”

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