NLRB Says CNN TVS Subcontracting Move Illegal

Orders Cable News Outlet to Rehire, Compensate Workers

It looks like Turner and CNN is going to have to do some hiring in addition to its recently announced buyouts.

The National Labor Relations Board Monday ruled in favor of a decade-old complaint that CNN, out of "antiunion animus," unlawfully replaced a unionized subcontractor, TVS, with in-house, nonunion, workers at its Washington and New York City bureaus.

According to the Communications Workers of America, that NLRB ruling means it has to "make whole" more than 300 employees who lost jobs and benefits and unioni representation due to the move to get rid of unionized workers. CWA says that means rehiring a hundred of those workers, and and compensate the rest, who continued to work without union benefits or a contract, which it says works out to tens of millions of dollars.

In addition to upholding an administrative judge ruling that CNN's activities were antiunion, NLRB added the make-whole provisions: "Within 14 days from the date of the Board's Order, offer employment to the former TVS employees listed below to their former positions or, if those jobs no longer exist, to substantially equivalent positions, without prejudice to their seniority or any other rights or privileges previously enjoyed," NLRB said, following that with a two-and-a-half-page list of names."

In addition, the board said CNN had to pay bargaining unit employees for any adverse tax consequences for any lump sum back payments.

"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 in a statement. "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."

"CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options," the company said in a statement.

The three-member NLRB decision was not unanimous. NLRB member Philip Miscimarra said he did not think CNN had a duty to nofity the unions of the decision to terminate the TVS contract or bargain with them over the decision to insource the work and change its staffing plan.

In his partial dissent, Miscimarra said CNN should have to comply with federal labor laws, and he agreed with some of the conclusions of the board, those "areas of agreement are obscured by my colleagues' more sweep-ing pronouncements of illegality that, in my view, cannot be squared with our precedents and the record."