Dissident Strikers Take Straw Poll On NBC Contract Offer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Some striking NBC workers are suggesting their union end its 3 1/2 -month walkout against the network, but the union leadership says it will ignore such ″traitors″ and continue the job action.
Many union members feel the strike is having no impact on NBC, which has continued to broadcast with few noticeable effects.
″They have won,″ said New York local news producer Ginny Russo, voicing the despair of many strikers. ″They have crushed our spirit and our will. We can’t afford to stay out there any more. ... This is Appomattox and they are arranging the terms of surrender.″
The strikers have gone without paychecks for 14 weeks.
The dissident activity ″borders on the verge of treachery,″ Arthur Kent, president of Local 11 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, said Monday. He called the dissidents ″traitors″ who are undermining the union and prolonging the strike.
″All it does is pull the rug out from under the negotiating committee,″ said Kent. ″I know they are angry and frustrated and bitter, but that should be taken out on those who are hurting them.″
The union’s executive committee planned a six-city conference call Wednesday to discuss the crisis.
NABET leaders have not given the 2,800 camera operators, video and audio editors, graphic artists, producers, news writers and others a chance to vote on NBC’s final offer. The offer has not changed substantially since the walkout began.
When the membership authorized its negotiating committee to call a strike, it also gave them the sole authority to present a company offer to members for a vote. And unless a majority approves the pact, NBC will not allow NABET members to cross picket lines and return to work. ″When you allow individuals to come back to work, that is commonly thought of as a union- breaking tactic,″ said Day Krolik, NBC’s vice president for labor relations. ″And we do not engage in those activities.″
″If this union still has any interest in maintaining a pretense that it represents its members and that it’s a democratic institution ... I see no reason that it wouldn’t allow its members to vote,″ Krolik said.
Outside New York, union leaders were not as forthright as Kent.
″I am not familiar with a grass-roots effort in this local and if such a movement exists, they haven’t contacted me,″ said Charles Mathis, strike coordinator for NABET Local 31 in Washington. ″And even if they did, it’s up to the national executive committee.″
Dainel Delaney, president of NABET Local 41 in Chicago, said he knows nothing of any rift among his membership. ″And I don’t speculate.″