Sports Broadcast Freelancers

FAQ Sports Broadcast Technicians

ORGANIZING NEW ENGLAND BROADCAST SPORTS CREWERS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What clients are IBEW Local 1228 organizing with and why is this happening now?

Sports programming and related crewing is growing rapidly on both cable, and online and more sports networks are cropping up like Fox Sports 1 & 2, and Sinclair Sports Network just to name a few. There is no doubt that live broadcast sports of professional, college and high school levels has a very healthy future and presents career paths for many technicians into the future throughout New England.

In the last year we reached a historic Tentative Agreement with Program Productions Inc. (PPI) who crew sports events at Fenway Park, Providence College and any and all other work they do for Fox Sports 1 (FS1) in New England. PPI has been chosen as the preferred crewing agent nationwide by FS1.  We have also reached Agreement with LDM Worldwide for 2 year Agreement. Both Contracts provide for fair market wages, holiday pay, travel pay, parking, defined working conditions as well as contributions into a 401k and medical insurance under the Entertainment industry FLEX benefits program.

Currently we are in the process of organizing MJN Productions, who crew Revolutions Soccer as well as RED SOX away feeds, Boston College football and many other sporting events throughout New England. We hope to have enough cards signed soon and will ask for recognition when that happens.

Will IBEW Local 1228 organize against other clients that provide work in New England?

As with any broadcast market, the strongest contracts and the best rates happen when the entire market is organized. We will organize any crewer where a strong majority of workers who work for a particular crewer wish to do so.  The New England Freelance community deserves the best wage rates, health care, retirement and working conditions at every broadcast they work and Local 1228 is dedicated to making that happen with you.

How would IBEW Local 1228 protect Sport TV Freelancers of New England?

With the support of the International Office of the IBEW, our Local Union Officers and Staff, lawyers and new Sports TV Freelance Shop Stewards we will bargain the Contract that you the members put together and we will police it on every job site. Our goal is to provide a strong wage and benefit package but also fair working conditions that are particular to this industry such as cancelation fees, parking, overnight accommodations, proper meals and meal breaks, turnaround time, etc.

We will negotiate a Contract that stops uneven daily rates per craft and favoritism in assignment as well as providing safe workplace practices and procedures.

What benefits would IBEW Local 1228 try to secure for me?

The benefits that we would seek to secure for all broadcast technicians and utilities would be determined by the Craft Committee put together for each crewer we organize.  The Craft Committee will determine what wages, health care, retirement and working conditions to fight for in consultation with all affected workers.  Members of the Craft Committee will be giving input to the Committees sitting at the bargaining table along with IBEW 1228 leadership and lawyers. 

Ultimately, the Bargaining Committees will present a contract package to be approved or rejected by the members of that Bargaining Unit; the members have the final vote on accepting or rejecting contract offers from their employers.

If IBEW Local 1228 secures a Contract with a client, how long will it last?

Contracts generally run from two to four years, but it has to be mutually agreed upon by both sides.

Who pays for legal representation for IBEW Local 1228 during Contract negotiations?

Local 1228 pays for legal representation for our Boston based labor law attorneys; we also have access to IBEW national staff attorneys if needed.  Both sets of attorneys have been involved in our organizing work so far.

What is the initiation fee for IBEW Local 1228?

If you are a Freelance member working under the CBS or FOX national Agreement our initiation fee is $150. However, if you are working under a Contract we have negotiated locally with an Employer and you are a Bargaining Unit member we charge 20% of the top weekly rate for the classification you are in but never more than $200. In most cases The IBEW waives the initiation fee for those original Bargaining Unit members who archived a first Contract with their Employer.

What are the dues for IBEW Local 1228?

Basic Dues are $22.50 per month and Working Dues (when you work under a 1228 contract) are 1.55% of straight time hours up to 40 hours; there are no dues collected for overtime and no dues will be collected until there is a Contract that the members have approved.

If I am a member of IBEW Local 1212, do I have to join IBEW Local 1228 to work locally?

If the majority of your work is done under a Local 1212 Contract you should remain a member of 1212. However, if the majority of your work is performed under a 1228 you can ask for a transfer to Local 1228. But in either case any work done under a Local 1228 or a 1212 contract would result in working dues being paid to that respective Local. 

Who makes sure that members pay their dues at IBEW Local 1228?

The local union will try to negotiate dues check-off with the crewer, meaning the crewer would automatically deduct your Working Dues from your hours worked.  However, this must be mutually agreed upon in the union Contract; it is not a given. 

Ultimately, it is the member’s responsibility to pay their dues. Local 1228 will send you a monthly statement of what your account looks like. 

If I am a member of another union, can I still join IBEW Local 1228?

Yes.  Some of our IBEW members are members of 3 other unions.  There is nothing stopping you from being a member of more than one union.

Frequently Asked Questions About Organizing the New England Broadcast Market

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about organizing a Union

in the Broadcast Industry

Many broadcast workers have been organizing their workplaces into Union shops throughout the Country in the last few years and while each worker has their own particular issue or reason there are some common questions raised in each organizing drive. We have put together a few of those and broken them down into three categories; process, rights and industry issues. Please read through these FAQ’s to find out more about organizing your shop.

What is a Union?

A union is a group of workers in a Company that chose to bargain collectively for their wages, benefits and working conditions with their Employer. They are offered this right by law through the National Labor Relation Act. This act is enforced by The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which is a Federal Agency. A union is an organization committed to representing the individual, and it establishes a true sense of democracy in the workplace. IBEW Local 1228 has been organizing broadcast workplaces since 1941, just 6 years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act on July 5, 1935.

Why do Employers opposed to unions?

The union acts as the collective voice of individual employees. The Contracts we negotiate limit management’s ability to change policies, wages, benefits and working conditions on a whim or in a fashion that is detrimental to the workers we represent. Unions challenge unfair or arbitrary decisions made by an employer or company.  Managers would much rather have unlimited say in the direction and future of the workplace without interference by all of its employees.  

A union ensures that the individual employee takes part in decision’s regarding issues such as hours of work, level of wages and salaries, job assignments and safety. Companies sometime overlook the fact that the success or future of the company is a direct result of the success of their employees. A union maintains a sense of democracy within a company and should be considered a constructive influence.

How do we form a Union?

Organizing a Union in your workplace is a project as well as a process and should not be rushed if you want it to succeed. First, co-workers discuss with each other why they think forming a Union would be beneficial to them and what issues or conditions a Union would improve. Then they speak to a Local Union affiliated with a national Union to get their help in organizing the workplace.

In order to form a Union in the private sector, workers need to file a petition for an election with the NLRB to have a Local Union become their Representative. By law, all they need is 30% of the group they are trying to form into a Union, but experience has shown that unless you have 75%-80% you will most likely lose the election. The proof of that is presented to the NLRB in the form of representation cards signed by the workers along with the petition for an election. The NLRB will then set a date for the election between 15 and 28 days of filing of the petition.

What happens if I sign a union card?

Signing a union card is just the first step of a legal process. Once the Organizers determine they have a sufficient number of cards a petition can then be filed with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), requesting that a secret ballot elections be held to confirm that a majority of employees want to be union. If that majority votes in favor of the union, the NLRB will certify the Local Union as the official bargaining representative.

The Employer does not see these cards.

What is a Bargaining Unit?

A Bargaining Unit is the group of workers who wish to form a Union. The way this is determined is fairly standard according to NLRB cases. They usually fall into one of a few categories:

A Technical Unit, Clerical Unit, or a Professional Unit. Most broadcast bargaining Units fall into either Technical (technicians, photographers, editors, master control, directors etc.) or Professional (reporters, anchors, writers, producers). But sometimes the Board will approve what is considered a “wall to wall” Unit such as Local 1228 has in WJAR Providence which includes both technical and professional staff.

The NLRB looks for determining factors among the group in what they refer to as a “Community of Interest”, meaning common supervision, similar craft assignments, regular interaction, same benefits and a few other factors.  If the Company and the Union “stipulate” or agree to the Bargaining Unit members then the election is set. If there is a discrepancy between their interpretations of who is in and who is out then must attend a hearing within 10 days of the petition being filed to present their case to the NLRB. The NLRB makes the final determination on the size and makeup of the Bargaining Unit.

What is the Campaign Period?

After the petition is file the Company will hold what are commonly referred to as “captive audience meetings” where they gather many of the workers into a room to tell them why they think you should not form a Union. They will also do this one on one with your supervisors or through your co-workers who oppose the Union. The following are examples of employer conduct that interferes with the rights of employees:

  • Threatening the loss of jobs or benefits.
  • Threatening employees about their union activity.
  • Promising or granting promotions, pay raises, or other benefit in return for being against the union.
  • Discriminating or firing employees to discourage unionism.
  • If any of these Section 7 violations do occur the union will file charges with the National Labor Relations Board on your behalf. You have the legal right to support and join a union of your own choosing and we will make sure that right is not interfered with by unscrupulous employers.

Is the company allowed to speak out against the union?

Yes, and it is very likely they will. It is in the employer’s best interest (not yours) to keep the company union-free. Your employer will tell you anything, even lie to you, to remain union-free. On the other hand, it is in the union’s best interest to be as up front and honest with you and also to let you know the type of tactics that will be used by your employer. This is the most important time to stay together and not fall for the implied or real promises, threats or innuendos.

What happens after the Election?

The Local Union will work with the Bargaining Unit to draft Contract proposals pick a Bargaining Committee made up of Employees and set up meeting dates with the Company to begin the process of negotiating their first Contract. This usually takes quite a few months and can take up to a year. But during that period, the Employer is forbidden form reducing wages or benefits or changing working conditions. When the Contract is signed by both parties, those terms and conditions are in place until a new Contract is negotiated. In the broadcast industry, the normal Contract length is about 3 years. The company must bargain in good faith with the union toward reaching an agreement.

What about Dues?

You do not pay anything until you get your first Contract. At the time that you become a member, you pay dues that have been determined by the entire membership of the Local Union and the IBEW.  Local 1228’s dues structure is $22.50 per month and 1.55% of straight time gross wages. We do not take dues from overtime wages.

Just like gyms, health clubs or any other membership organization, dues are a fact of life. We all realize this fact and are willing to contribute our fair share. The goal is to increase your wages and benefits well above and beyond your union dues. If we can’t do that then you don’t need us.

If a union is voted in, are union supporters given preferences in wages and job assignments?

No. By law, no employee can be given preference in wages and job assignments just because of his/her union support.

Could the union force the company to do away with work rules?

No. However, if you find those rules unjust or discriminatory, the union, as a collective bargaining agent, can help ensure that your workplace is operated fairly.

Could the union tell the company how to run their operation?

No. The union acts as the collective bargaining agent in matters concerning wages, hours and conditions of employment. A union does not run the company in which you work; it provides you the right to have someone represent you on matters with which you disagree with the company.

Can the union require the company to replace supervisory personnel with people of the union’s choosing?

No. It is management’s prerogative to select supervisory personnel.

How strong are Broadcast Unions?

As we said above Local 1228 of the IBEW has been around since 1941 and has organized and improved wages, benefits and working conditions for workers and their families in each shop since then. In the last few years we have had three very successful organizing drives and secured excellent first Contracts in two out of three those. The third is still in bargaining but we hope to have that Contract by years end.

Our office is located at 77 Access Road in Norwood, MA.   We are always willing to meet anyone at the office or meet workers near where they work or live.

Our Executive Board is comprised of station and freelance members who live and work throughout New England. They meet at the office on the third Tuesday of every month.

Our monthly union meetings take place the first Wednesday of the first full week of every month in our Norwood office. Every other month, we rotate the meetings to Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut so more members can attend regular union meetings.  Exact dates and locations on union meetings is posted on the website.

Please contact any one of us with any questions or concerns:

Steve Katsos
IBEW Local 1228 Organizer
508.472.5018
katsos@ibew1228.org

John Murphy
IBEW Local 1228 Assistant Business Manager / Organizer
860.995.3389

murphy@ibew1228.org

Fletcher Fischer
IBEW Local 1228 Business Manager
860.281.4185
fletcher@ibew1228.org

IBEW Philadelphia Organizing Experience: Sam Brattini's Presentation in Videos

Sam Brattini, IBEW Local 98 (Philadelphia, PA) Broadcasting Division Shop Steward, is a network camera operator with over 25 years of television experience. An IBEW member since 1996, he is Chairman of the Local 98 Philadelphia Freelancers Contract Committee.
 
Sam spoke to a group of broadcast technicians at IBEW Local 103 and explained how he and the Philadelphia Freelance community organized to get union contracts to end disparities in working conditions, pay and benefits, and why they chose the IBEW to help them succeed.
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