Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communications Workers of America Local 31 is planning to ask hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide to stop donating to their local Public Broadcasting Service stations.

The local union’s contract with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was terminated in early November after 90 percent of its members voted to reject the company’s offer. Nationally, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has about 700,000 members.

“Many stations are facing very serious economic challenges and for the union to do something that would hurt them in any way is completely counterproductive to the notion that PBS is better supported,” said Lea Sloan, a PBS spokeswoman.

The union wants any future layoffs to include fair buyout packages and be done through its master seniority list, said Mark Peach, Local 31’s president. Also, the union would continue sharing jurisdiction with the company, which means nonunion workers can do union jobs, as long as Local 31 maintains a certain number of full-time employees.

PBS wants to lower that minimum requirement as a precursor to layoffs, he said.

“We’re basically going to ramp up our mobilization to focus on the member stations because they’re the ones that have the loudest voice,” Mr. Peach said. “Maybe PBS will listen to them if they’re not listening to us.”

No negotiating sessions are planned, he said.

PBS offered the union a series of dates for more meetings in November, but was rebuffed and offered no alternatives, Ms. Sloan said. “We feel as if our proposal is very fair,” she said. “We have in no way closed them out.”

By terminating the contract, the union can strike PBS, but a strike vote is not currently planned, Mr. Peach said.

Z104, WJFK at bat

Z104-FM would like to carry all Washington Nationals’ games this year if the Bonneville International Corp. station can get a deal done with Major League Baseball, said Joel Oxley, general manager of the company’s Washington stations.

Bonneville’s WFED-AM (1050) broadcast all Nationals games last year, while Z104’s stronger signal carried night and holiday games.

CBS Radio’s WJFK-FM (106.7) was also interested in broadcasting Nationals games last year. There have been no specific talks with Major League Baseball for this year, “but that’s not to say there’s no interest,” said Michael Hughes, general manager of CBS Radio in Washington.

Chartese Burnett, a Nationals spokeswoman, would not comment because no deal is in place for the upcoming season.

Bonneville stations also are interested in airing Washington Redskins games next season if the team parts ways with WJFK, Mr. Oxley said.

“We’ve heard from several other entities, but we’re not doing anything until we finish the season,” said Karl Swanson, a Redskins spokesman.

Mr. Hughes would not comment on the Redskins negotiations, but was thrilled about yesterday’s debut of the station’s new lineup highlighted by “The Junkies” officially replacing Howard Stern’s show.

Peter Rosenberg follows “The Junkies” from 10 a.m. to noon. Bill O’Reilly airs from noon to 2 p.m., followed by an hour of comedian Penn Jillette. Don and Mike remain in afternoon drive, followed by the local debut of Jay Severin at 7 p.m.

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