NEW YORK — Negotiators for NBC and the union for nearly one-third of its workers are resuming talks here today in hope of ending a strike that began June 29 when NBC put into effect a contract the union had rejected.
No major breakthroughs are expected. But the federally mediated parley could lead to a temporary cease-fire and the return to work of 2,800 strikers if the network does one thing, says one of the union's chief negotiators.
And that is for NBC to "un-implement" the two-year contract that earlier was rejected by negotiators for the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, says Carrie Biggs-Adams.
The union called its members out after NBC put the contract it called its final offer into effect.
"If they un-implement it, I'm sure that the strike could be over, and we'd continue to bargain with them," Biggs-Adams, head of Local 53 in Burbank, said.
But in a separate interview, NBC's vice president for labor relations, Day Krolik III, expressed doubt that NBC, which narrowly avoided a staff directors' strike last week, would withdraw the contract now in effect.
"I don't think we'd be interested in doing that because they (the union) called the strike, we didn't," he said. Besides, he added, the contract that NBC put into effect is in no way a legally binding one.
"It doesn't mean that they're tied to the terms of what's been implemented," he said, nor does it stop the union from bargaining and saying parts "of what was implemented are unacceptable."
Biggs-Adams agreed. However, she said, for a union member to start working under the contract NBC put into effect "means you start living under something you didn't agree to while trying to get it off your back. . . .
"You're not legally bound (by such a contract), but you are certainly emotionally and psychologically bound if you agree to work under it."
NBC says about 700 management and supervisory personnel are filling in for the strikers, both at the network and at NBC's seven radio stations and five owned-and-operated TV stations, including KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Burbank.
The majority of the strikers are technicians, camera operators, videotape editors and engineers working with 350 network and local news writers, news producers and production assistants also walking the picket line.
Today's scheduled session, called by a federal mediator, marks the first time since June 28 that the two sides have met to talk about a contract to succeed one that expired March 31.
The union's last NBC strike in 1976 lasted seven weeks.
Hoping to avoid another strike that long, several WNBC-TV anchors and "NBC Nightly News" anchorman Tom Brokaw last week met with union officials and NBC President Robert C. Wright to voice concern about the current walkout.
Although Brokaw wasn't available for comment, one source said that the anchorman and his colleagues basically asked that the walkout be settled as rapidly and reasonably as possible.
The news anchors and NBC's local and network reporters are members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which is not on strike.
Major stumbling blocks in the NBC dispute include management proposals on "daily hires," or temporary employees.
Union proposals on which management has balked includes the union's desire to put any new station that NBC buys--it is in the process of buying WTVJ-TV in Miami--under the union's contract with the company.
The company says that if employees of a station that NBC buys want the union to represent them, their labor-management contract should be only with that station.
Although today's negotiations eventually may lead to momentary peace in NBC's time, ABC and CBS still have contract talks pending with other unions.
Those two networks--whose news operations were struck by and later settled with the Writers Guild of America earlier this year--now face negotiations on staff contracts with the Directors Guild of America.
ABC will be first up, but no date has yet been set, said a spokesman for the directors guild. The guild last Tuesday reached tentative agreement with NBC on a new three-year pact and narrowly averted that network's second strike against it.
In addition to its talks with the guild, CBS also has waiting in the labor wings negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which claims 1,600 members at CBS, including camera operators and videotape editors.
That union's three-year contract with CBS expires Sept. 30.