labor CBSN Unionizes with the WGA East
NEW YORK (February 5, 2019) — In a first for digital streaming news services, the writers, producers, and graphic artists at CBSN – CBS News’ 24/7 live streaming news network – have unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The company agreed to voluntarily recognize the union after a third-party card check confirmed that a clear majority of the 55-member staff had signed union cards with the WGAE.
The CBSN staff’s unionization builds upon a nearly 65-year-long relationship between the WGAE and CBS: Employees who craft news content at the broadcasting arm of CBS News have been Writers Guild of America members since the Guild was established in 1954.
CBSN became the first-ever 24/7 live anchored digital streaming news network when it launched in 2014 and is now the first major digital live-streaming news service to unionize.
“The WGAE recognizes that the news business has become increasingly platform-agnostic. People watch and read news on television screens and computer screens and smartphone screens (and on radio). Our members are committed to creating compelling content for all of these screens, and our union is committed to representing people who do this work on all screens,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “CBSN has broken ground by being the first in the growing sector of digital live-streaming news services to unionize. The reality is that virtually every major network has or is set to launch their own streaming services and it is vital that people doing the same work as their peers in broadcast and digital media are able to secure equal workplace protections. We are pleased to welcome CBSN to the Guild and we look forward to carrying our productive relationship with CBS News forward into the digital realm.”
The CBSN Organizing Committee issued the following statement explaining why they are organizing:
“We are CBSN and we are always on.
We are the tiny but mighty group of dedicated writers, producers and graphic artists at CBS News’ 24/7 live streaming channel. We are proud to be pioneers in the digital industry and contributors to the history of journalistic excellence at CBS News. Just like our colleagues on the broadcast side of CBS News, we know that the best way to advocate for a fair and safe workplace is to ensure that all our voices are heard. That’s why we have organized to be a part of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
An overwhelming majority of our coworkers at CBSN have signed union authorization cards to join the 5,000 members of the WGAE, which includes hundreds of our CBS News broadcast colleagues who already have a union contract. We are also proud to stand with the thousands of other digital media professionals who have organized in recent years. We are encouraged by CBS’ decision to voluntarily recognize our union and we are looking forward to constructive negotiations over the issues that are important to all of us.
We organized because we want to keep producing dynamic content in a fair work environment. We organized to ensure that everyone who walks into our newsroom is treated equally. We organized because we know we are stronger together. We organized because we are CBSN and we are always on.”
In addition to CBSN, the WGAE represents broadcast news staffs at ABC News, WNYW, WBBM-AM, WCBS-AM, and 1010 WINS, as well as digital-first staffs at Refinery29, The Dodo, Fast Company, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, Intercept, MTV News, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, ThinkProgress, Thrillist, VICE, and Vox Media. The WGAE now represents nearly 5,000 writers in film, television, news and new media.
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.