WNYT, union reach agreement on new contract

The union that urged Capital Region residents to “Turn off Channel 13” is singing a different tune n

The union that urged Capital Region residents to “Turn off Channel 13” is singing a different tune now that its six-month contract standoff has reached a conclusion.

Members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technical-Communications Workers of America Local 21 ratified a four-year pact with television station WNYT on Wednesday night. The deal ends the bitter battle WNYT’s organized news, engineering and production workers waged against the station and its Minnesota parent, Hubbard Broadcasting.

“We gave a little and the union gave a little, and we ended up with a compromise we could both live with,” WNYT General Manager Steve Baboulis said.

NABET-CWA emerged from the dispute with promises of annual raises, but more importantly, it got management to back away from its demand to lay off anyone in the bargaining unit, regardless of seniority.

In return, the union granted management more leniency in allowing managers and other workers to temporally fill in for unionized work. Baboulis said it was important for the station to obtain more flexibility in handling daily operations, especially at a time when television news stations are struggling to keep their edge with smaller staffs.

Although local union president Bill Lambdin said he does not foresee any layoffs at WNYT during the current contract, other stations have taken an ax to newsrooms. WTEN in Albany cut 10 newsroom jobs in January, and CBS News has started laying off 1,200 employees at stations it owns in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted. We were able to get the demands we found totally unacceptable withdrawn,” Lambdin said.

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