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CNN Pays Record Union-Busting Fine

The $76 Million settlement ends a 15 year battle with the cable news giant

Brian Young's picture
Jan 13, 2020

In a record settlement, CNN has been ordered to pay $76 million to settle a long-running case of union-busting. The case began way back in 2003 when the cable network fired 300 camera operators. The decision which was announced on Friday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), represents the largest single monetary settlement in the 80+ years of the agency.

The case began when CNN decided to cancel a contract with a company called Team Video Services. Their employees were members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, division of the Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA). At the time the workers alleged that the contract was canceled because CNN refused to work with the union workforce.

For the past 15 years, CNN tried to argue that they were not the employees’ direct boss. Instead, they claimed that the camera operators were simply working as contractors who were employed by a different company. However the board ruled in 2014, and a federal appeals court agreed in 2017, that CNN was a successor employer and was thus responsible.

“After more than 15 years, this settlement agreement finally delivers justice for workers who experienced serious hardship in their lives due to CNN’s union-busting practices,” said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico. “This incredible settlement in workers’ favor should send a very clear message to CNN and to other employers that union-busting is illegal and has consequences.”

The settlement comes as NABET-CWA was ramping up pressure on the company. The union was planning on picketing the January 14th CNN Democratic debate, forcing the current Democratic National Committee and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez to step in. CWA also brought in AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey to pressure the company into a settlement. CNN is part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia division and the CWA represents workers at AT&T.

“We are grateful to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez for his help ensuring that this debate will proceed without the disruption of a labor dispute,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “The Democratic presidential candidates demonstrated their commitment to working people by intending to honor the picket line.”

According to the union, the $76 million will be paid to the NLRB who will then make payments to the affected workers.

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