Dec 5, 2013
NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce, CWA President Larry Cohen, and KABC-TV President and General Manager Arnie Kleiner and ABC, Inc. senior vice president Marc Sandman discuss how federal mediation moved negotiations from a near crisis stage to innovation and resolution. Left is George Cohen, FMCS Director.
NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce and CWA President Larry Cohen joined the White House Summit on Labor and Management Partnerships to talk about the value of federal mediation in recent negotiations with ABC, Inc.
The summit was moderated by George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, with remarks by Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Commerce Secretary Penny S. Pritzker.
Joyce summarized the "near crisis situation" that bargaining had become in recent years, along with the challenges facing NABET-CWA and ABC management, including economic stress, changing technology, job convergence and retirement security. Workers at ABC were trying to build job security, but also wanted to be a part of where the industry was growing the jobs of the future.
"These were persistent themes of our bargaining from 2011 until March 2013. Then, with the help of FMCS Director Cohen and a marathon bargaining session, we were able to find innovative and creative solutions to our issues, work out a groundbreaking agreement, actually, on gathering content, and successfully keep workers on track for job security, retirement security and the jobs of the future," he said.
Arnie Kleiner, president and general manager of KABC-TV, and Marc Sandman, senior vice president for labor relations at ABC, noted that in bargaining, having operations managers at the table, as opposed to labor relations staff, was critical to helping make the negotiations work because "they could tell the real story." Joyce added that the union bargaining team consisted of longtime ABC workers who had a deep understanding of the industry.
CWA's Cohen praised FMCS's Cohen, stressing that "the bargaining was as bad as it gets, but we had a path forward" because of him. "We had an adversarial relationship that has become, we hope, transformative."
CWA's Cohen stressed that it's in our national economic interest to keep collective bargaining going: "Today's examples of how bargaining and partnership work, whether in the private sector or public sector, are important. The process is messy, but it's democracy at work."
"Without collective bargaining, there will be no economic growth. Wages have been falling for 40 years. There aren't enough tax tricks to overcome that. We need to honor, work for and fight for collective bargaining," he said.