WASHINGTON -- After 11 years, CNN employees finally have a measure of justice. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Monday found “overwhelming” evidence of anti-union animus at the cable news giant and ordered it to “make whole” more than 300 employees who lost their jobs and the benefits of union representation in the wake of the company’s phony reorganization scheme to get rid of unionized workers.
"On behalf of our CNN members in Washington, D.C. and New York City, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA) is grateful for today's decision by the National Labor Relations Board,” said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce. “These workers have waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and have suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities. CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately comply with the orders of the National Labor Relations Board issued today."
CWA President Larry Cohen said, “All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013. Without a functioning NLRB this decision would never have been possible. But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them.”
The NLRB ordered that CNN rehire about 100 workers and compensate 200 more employees, who continued to work at the company without the benefits of a union contract, on the order of tens of millions of dollars.
CNN is required to restore any bargaining unit work that was outsourced since the end of the contracts. The company also must recognize the employees’ union and resume bargaining with NABET-CWA Local 11 and NABET-CWA Local 31.
“Today is a good day to stand up straight,” said Tyrone Riggs, who lost his job in 2003. “I never gave up hope. I never wavered. I knew justice would prevail.”
In December 2003, CNN terminated its longstanding technical subcontracting relationship at Team Video Services (TVS), a firm which had employed NABET-CWA-represented workers in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The union immediately filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, which, due to various delays, were not brought to trial before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the NLRB for almost five years.
Finally, in November 2008, after 72 days of trial, the ALJ ruled against CNN and in favor of NABET-CWA. The ALJ found, in part, that CNN had engaged in “widespread and egregious misconduct” and had demonstrated “a flagrant and general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.” The ALJ’s 169-page decision ordered the employer to take seven basic actions to remedy the widespread violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
Yet, CNN ignored the decision and delayed justice further by appealing the ALJ’s ruling. Two years later, in October 2010, CWA filed another motion with the NLRB, calling on the board to give this case priority over all other pending cases.
In 2013, the company took its obstruction a step further by challenging the NLRB’s legal authority, after a federal appeals court created uncertainty over recess appointments of three members to the NLRB.
Delays in the case took a terrible toll on workers who have lost their homes, gone bankrupt and struggled to pay their medical bills while they awaited justice. And this remediation comes too late for a number of workers who have since passed away.