PRESS RELEASE : from The Union Label & Service Trades Department (AFL-CIO)
815 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
Richard Kline, President (202) 508-3700

Contact: Jim Spellane (IBEW) (202) 728-6014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sinclair Broadcasting has been added to the AFL-CIO boycott list at the request of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Sinclair owns or operates 56 television stations in 31 markets.

The action follows a breakdown in contract negotiations for a successor agreement between Sinclair and IBEW Local 1837 starting last February when the company imposed terms on 40 employees at Portland, Maine Station WGME. The IBEW filed a series of unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board after the company imposed pay cuts of up to 10 percent on certain station workers. Sinclair admitted at the bargaining table that the cuts were not prompted by any financial crisis but simply because the company believes the workers are overpaid.

IBEW represents technicians, news and assignment editors, photographers, engineers, producers and directors at the station. AFTRA represents on-air personnel.

In addition to curtailing pay, Sinclair is insistent on “flexibility” in work assignments—including the right to assign bargaining unit work to non-bargaining unit personnel, “discretion” in raises and changes in employee benefits. Approximately 100 of Sinclair’s 2,400 employees are represented by a union. IBEW also represents Sinclair units in Cedar Rapids, St. Louis and Springfield, IL. Additionally, station WGME has a unit of AFTRA employees and NABET represents workers at WUHF in Rochester, NY.

In the spring of 2010, the union received tremendous support from Democratic candidates in the Maine gubernatorial primary who—at the request of Local 1837 and the Maine AFL-CIO—unanimously agreed to withhold campaign advertising from the CBS-affiliated station, a decision that cost an estimated $500,000 in ad revenue. In response, Sinclair’s management directed the station’s General Manager Tom Humpage to air an editorial attacking the Democratic candidates for their decision.

Placement on the boycott list means that union members will be encouraged not to patronize any Sinclair stations either as viewers or advertisers. The full list of Sinclair-owned stations and their markets is listed below.

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