Sore at Channel 4

Jul 28, 1999 at 12:00 am

About 60 union employees and supporters picketed WDIV’s downtown offices last Friday with signs that read "Turn off Channel 4, it’s bad news for workers."

According to Dan Morgan, a video editor in the news department and spokesman for the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Local 43, the station is trying to reduce union jobs. He says the company wants photographers, (who are in another union) and non-union workers to be field editors, a position currently covered by NABET members. That would continue to gut the union, which has lost almost half its members in the last 15 years, he says.

"We only have 47 full-time employees" in the union, he says. "We had 85 full time in 1985."

The company also wants to expand the use of temporary employees, who are not entitled to benefits and union wages, said Morgan.

WDIV general manager Alan Frank says that the station has no intention of using temporary employees in place of union workers. He says that the only issue on the table is allowing photographers to be field editors. This means allowing photographers, who are not in NABET but another union, to do the work of editors. He says this would turn around news pieces quicker and make the station more competitive. Frank also says that the boycott has had no effect on the station’s ratings or revenues. "Instead of negotiating they want to have a boycott and we think it is remarkably shortsighted because it will backfire on them," says Frank.