Some unionized employees at Washington's NBC4 television station have gone public with their contract battle by asking viewers to tune out. The employees are unhappy with contract negotiations that are stalled over proposed changes to their job functions, so they've launched the TurnOffNBC4 campaign by placing ads on buses and billboards asking viewers to boycott the station.
Carl Mayers, President of Local 31 of the Communication Workers of America says the CWA has negotiated with the company for nearly 35 years during which even difficult contract talks were resolved.
"But it's always been negotiated and they don't want to negotiate with us. They're basically saying they want it their way or the highway,"Mayers said.
In a written statement to WAMU 88,5 News, a spokesperson for NBC4 said the station is trying to protect jobs.
The statement also said "any union would best serve its members by approaching the proposed changes in a constructive and realistic manner."
The union's ad campaign appears to have generated both interest and confusion among the public.
"It leaves me in a quandary as to what exactly they're saying because there's no follow through information that I can see other than don't watch NBC," said one man in Dupont Circle.
Union reps won't say how much the ads are costing it but they're banking on public pressure to bring management back to the bargaining table.
Mana Rabiee reports...
Note to Listeners/Readers from WAMU 88 5:
NBC4 meteorologists provide weekday weather reports for some WAMU 88.5 newscasts.
Text of statement from NBC4:
"Not surprisingly, we don't agree with a lot of these characterizations, and we've consistently said the place to resolve these issues is at the bargaining table. We haven't received a request from the union to engage in formal talks since our last meeting on May 5.
In order to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving business, we continue to embrace new technology that improves how we gather, create and distribute content in today’s new media environment. The resulting operational changes affect both union and nonunion employees Ultimately, we are trying to protect jobs, and any union will best serve its members by approaching these changes in a constructive and realistic manner".