Yesterday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a threat to our democracy and an assault on our country’s press freedoms.
While a violent mob roamed the Capitol, reporters continued doing their jobs, despite knowing that they were likely targets of the attackers since silencing the free press has long been a strategy for fascists. Police temporarily abandoned several floors where reporters were located, putting them at even greater risk.
This shameful assault is the direct result of the rhetoric spewed by politicians incapable of accepting the truth, or cynically relying on falsehoods to inflame division for political gain. The president and lawmakers who spread these lies have blood on their hands.
Outside the Capitol, an angry and violent mob attacked camera crews and reporters, stealing and damaging equipment. Although few rioters were arrested, in the evening police briefly detained journalists as they worked to cover the mayhem, despite the fact that journalists were clearly exempted from the D.C. curfew.
Thankfully it appears that no journalists were severely injured yesterday.
“Physical assaults or attacks of any type against journalists, reporters, camera crews, and technicians are despicable, offensive, and unlawful. These incidents should be fully investigated, and offenders should be prosecuted with maximum impact,” said NABET-CWA President Charles Braico.
“Yesterday was an absolute embarrassment for the U.S.” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “It’s the role of the free press in a democracy to report, give context and inform the public, especially during times of chaos.
“The world witnessed the assault on our democracy thanks to the courageous work of journalists who put themselves in harm's way to report the news. I saw what the rest of the world saw—a deluded mob invading our house of democracy in an attempt to subvert an election,” Schleuss added.
Union leaders said immediate action must be taken to stabilize and support the core base of our democracy: a free press informing the electorate.
Media Literacy Should Be Required in Our Schools
Yesterday’s mob acted on lies spread by politicians and operatives intent on spreading misinformation. It’s clear that our nation needs to prioritize media literacy in our education system. Too many people accept lies and conspiracy theories as fact. Media literacy education would provide our children with the skills necessary to understand the intent behind messages: understanding bias, determining fact from fiction and looking for alternative sources of information. Media literacy is essential if we intend to confront extremism, radicalization, and racism in our country.
More Local News Jobs Now
The chaos and discord we are seeing is in part due to the erosion of local news across our nation. There are more than 40,000 fewer journalists working in America today than there were a decade ago, which has left a vacuum that increasingly is filled with conspiracy theories and partisan propaganda. The pandemic has sped up the loss of journalists across our country, with more than 11,000 journalists losing their jobs just in the first half of 2020. Greedy corporations, media consolidation, and the gutting of newsrooms by financial players has robbed our nation of local truth tellers. Our founding fathers prioritized the free flow of information so voters would be informed participants in democracy. Hedge funds and greedy private equity have been robbing us of our democracy. They need to be rooted out of our industry and we must invest in more local news jobs: through the work of local do-gooders, foundations, and public support. As it did in the founding days of our nation, public policy must support a free and robust press.
Police Must Stop Interfering with Reporters
This summer dozens of reporters were targeted, assaulted, and arrested by police all across the United States: after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, the protests in Los Angeles and covering protests and in Washington, D.C. Police must be held accountable and prosecuted for interfering with the First Amendment rights of reporters gathering and disseminating the news.
NABET-CWA, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, represents more than 12,000 television and radio broadcast workers.
The NewsGuild-CWA is the largest union of journalists and other communications professionals in North America, representing more than 25,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.
The Communications Workers of America represents workers in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, and manufacturing.
We are the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, a sector of the Communications Workers of America.
Our Union strives to provide its members with a sense of pride and dignity in the workplace, while maintaining quality work conditions and fair wages. Over the years, NABET-CWA has fought for and won benefits and wages for its represented members which include a union shop, 8-hour work days, vacations, holidays, sick leave, insurance, overtime pay, pension plans, seniority, grievance and arbitration, safety, and health. NABET-CWA is proud of its fine tradition of democracy. Our members are well served by officers and staff whose roots are in the broadcast industry.
October 6, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers of NABET-CWA Local 31,
This year, 2020, has been very unique and stressful due to the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 Pandemic and subsequent shutdown of much of the economy. Our industry, along with many others, faced huge challenges to our operating models. Our members, particularly in news, have done an outstanding job of keeping the American public informed in the midst of this trying situation.
Because of the Pandemic NABET-CWA Local 31 has also had to change the manner in which we work. Most of our work is now being done remotely, utilizing Zoom and other teleconference platforms to meet with our members, Labor Relations and Human Resource departments of our various units. It was in this manner that we were able to negotiate several agreements with ABC/ESPN to bring our members back to cover the NBA, MLS, and other sports leagues.
NABET-CWA Local 31 is always available by phone (301-459-4999) or you may contact us via email (email@example.com). Voice messages are forwarded to us in real time so we will address your concerns and try to get back to you with answers in a timely fashion. We have revamped our website to reflect what is taking place within our various units and what is happening on a national level. The website (NABET31.org) also has important information on safety and government programs that affect members. Any suggestions to improve the website are encouraged.
Although the news side of NABET-CWA Local 31 has been working at their regular rate, sports and entertainment saw huge drop offs in their work and this impacted our daily hire members particularly. Sports coverage is ramping up this fall with most of the major sports leagues resuming their schedules, bringing back work to our members at ABC & NBC who cover these events.
At the Sector (National) level we are working to get daily hire members who were considered permalance some of the fringe benefits (vacation, sick days) they would normally have accrued, had it not been for the Pandemic and shutdowns.
As for the units themselves here are some updates:
1. ABC- The Master Agreement will be extended by six months until September 30, 2021 and bargaining will commence in April of 2021. Most of the ESPN studio shows have returned to Washington D.C. with the addition of a new show, Scott Van Pelt, being done in the D.C. studios.
2. NBC/WRC - NBC’s sports coverage is returning with both NFL & NCAA, football, NHL, NASCAR and Triple Crown horse racing. The NBC Network News Bureau has moved from Nebraska Ave. to 400 N. Capitol St. directly across from the US Capital. WRC remains in the Nebraska Ave. facility. They have continued to provide high quality news coverage throughout this pandemic.
3. NPR- We have signed an MOA that will run through the fiscal year 2021. Their Master Agreement has been extended to March 31, 2022.
4. PBS- Changes are being made to upgrade their payroll system.
5. WJLA - A contract has been signed for three years that gives members pay increases in each of those years along with a signing bonus. It also allows senior members to retain some of their previously earned benefits. This contract took over five years to be ratified and a special thanks must be given to the bargaining committee consisting of Alton Morris, Rich Guastadisegni, Rich McDermott (former NABET-CWA Local 31 President) and Keith Bolek (attorney).
6. MCM/MCT - The bargaining on this contract is ongoing but the Union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the NLRB regarding these negotiations. Iwould like to thank Barbara Krieger for her outstanding and diligent work during these talks.
7. HCS- This contract has been extended to March 31, 2021 due to the Pandemic and shutdowns.
8. HRS- This contract expires in March of 2021 and a re-opener will go out on February 1, 2021.
9. SRS- The negotiated contract will remain in effect until January 27, 2024.
10. WHUT- The contract has been extended to June 30, 2021.
11.WSVN – We have named Don Hansen as our Assistant to the President. Their contract expires June 30, 2022.
12.WITF- This contract runs through June 2023.
13. Maslow- We are in the process of working toward getting pay parity for these members with other broadcast workers on Capitol Hill. We are doing this with assistance from the CWA and the House Committee on Administration.
This is an overview of where the various units stand, that make up NABET-CWA Local 31. As you can see this Local has many different units that represent the broad spectrum of Broadcast and Cable workers in this region. Each unit has specific needs and concerns that the officers and staff of NABET-CWA Local 31 are here to represent.
Finally, I want to give special recognition to our Vice President Bantu Opiotennione, Treasurer/Regional Vice President Carl Mayers, Secretary Judy Washington, and our great staff of Karen Ruiz, Marilyn Wistort and Nicole Ruiz for keeping NABET-CWA Local 31 active and moving forward during this pandemic year of 2020.
I also want to thank you, our members, for your loyalty and patience during these stressful times.
President NABET-CWA Local 31