CNN has been ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to rehire 100 workers and compensate an additional 200 others in relation to a labor dispute dating back to 2003. CNN had replaced a unionized subcontractor, Team Video Services (TVS), that provided video and audio technicians with nonunion in-house teams in its New York and Washington bureaus.
This ruling comes in the midst of a massive restructuring at CNN, as revealed by network head Jeff Zucker in a memo last month to company employees. “We are going to do less and have to do it with less,” he wrote, suggesting imminent layoffs.
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The NLRB has given CNN 14 days to rehire former TVS employees for “their former positions or, if those jobs no longer exist, to substantially equivalent positions, without prejudice to their seniority or any other rights or privileges previously enjoyed.”
“CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options,” a spokesperson for the network told TheWrap.
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The NLRB determined that it had found evidence of an anti-union bias behind CNN’s failure to bargain with the union and instead simply terminating those subcontracts in favor of an in-house nonunion division. Further, the NLRB found that CNN utilized a hiring strategy that intentionally limited the ability of former Team Video Services employees to gain in-house employment, despite their obvious experience.
The Communication Workers of America said that the compensation for the other 200 workers, who did not initially lose their jobs but continued working without union benefits or a contract, will come in the “tens of millions of dollars” range, and that CNN must further restore any union work outsourced since the end of the contracts and recognize the union and resume bargaining with its local chapters.
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The case took five years to go to trial, despite the union filing with the NLRB immediately after CNN terminated TVS’s subcontracts. In 2008, a ruling came down against CNN finding that the network had shown a “disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”
In a partial dissent by NLRB member Philip A. Miscimarra, he disagreed with his colleagues’ assessment on several points, including that CNN and TVS shared joint-employer status. This determination was key in several elements of the ruling against CNN, as it established an employer-employee relationship between CNN and the workers who were let go.