News writers who struck CBS and ABC facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington a week ago were told by company officials Sunday that their health benefits would be cut off as of March 15, unless their union agrees to pick up insurance premiums.
Writers Guild of America officials put the premium costs at about $150,000 a month. Mona Mangan, chief negotiator for the guild's 525 striking members, called it "a punitive action, pure and simple."
CBS spokesman George Schweitzer said the networks, which have stopped employees' health coverage in past strikes, are not singling out the guild.
Little progress has been reported in New York negotiations.