Possible union picketing at two events during Pope John Paul II's Los Angeles visit was averted after an agreement was reached between NBC and its striking employees, the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET).
At the core of the dispute was KNBC Channel 4's intent to use non-union employees to provide local televised pool coverage of the Pope's talk to union and entertainment industry leaders today, and local non-Christian religious leaders on Wednesday .
"Today, NABET is happy to announce that we have reached an agreement with NBC to prevent our current labor dispute from marring Pope John Paul II's visit to Los Angeles," said Carrie J. Biggs-Adams, president of NABET Local 53 during a press conference Monday at the Los Angeles offices of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
CBS, said Biggs-Adams, will instead provide live televised coverage at both events for local television with its unionized employees--represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 45.
This latest dispute in the 78-day-old strike between NBC and NABET was resolved Sunday with the help of CBS's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' members, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and MCA/Universal Pictures--owners of the Registry Hotel, she added.
"We. . . hope that it (the agreement) is indicative of a future agreement on a national level," Biggs-Adams said.
NBC echoed NABET's conciliatory tone. "We thought that it was important that nothing mar the Pope's visit to Los Angeles," said Jay Rodriguez, a company spokesman. "We tried to accommodate everyone by eliminating our pool coverage."
Prior to the start of negotiations last week, KNBC had planned to station three remote camera units and 15 employees at the Registry Hotel in Universal City, where the Pope would meet entertainment industry leaders, and two remote camera units and 10 employees at the Japanese American Cultural Center.
NABET Local 53 leader's viewed KNBC's papal live coverage plans, particularly the meeting at the Registry Hotel, as an attempt to force other union leaders to cross NABET's picket lines. "We did not want to have this event thrown in our faces by having top union officials attend that event," Biggs-Adams said.
Rodriguez said that issue was never discussed during negotiations to resolve the dispute last week.
In a related development, NABET announced that it has targeted Oct. 1 as the day in which it will call for a walkout of all employees, union and non-unionized, working for the Los Angeles television industry. The combination walkout and rally to be staged in front of NBC's Burbank studios, Biggs-Adams said, is designed to send a message to NBC and other employers that organized labor in the television industry will bitterly resist every attempt to weaken it.