NEW YORK — In a move that could end the longest walkout in NBC history, the union for 2,800 technicians and news employees said Sunday it will conduct a membership vote next week on NBC's contract and strike settlement offers.
John Krieger, spokesman for the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, said the union leadership will make no recommendation on the contract to its members who have been on strike since June 29. The results will be tallied next Sunday and announced the next day.
The union's six-member negotiating committee was split on putting the offer to a vote, and "some may campaign against it," Krieger said. He declined to say which committee members were against it.
A spokesman for NBC said the company was pleased by the union's decision and called the contract offer fair and equitable.
The contract would take effect immediately upon ratification and expire on March 31, 1990. It contains union concessions on origination of broadcasts--mainly sports and news--from non-NBC stations. The union had wanted such remote broadcasts to originate from facilities of NBC-affiliated stations. The new contract would allow the broadcasts to come from any station.
It also retains provisions on so-called daily hires--equivalent to 4% of NABET's membership the first year and 6% the second--to which the union had objected, arguing that it paved the way for cuts in full-time employment of its members. Daily hires are employed by the day, rather than for the guaranteed two-week period required in the union's previous contract with NBC.
The union's agreement to put the proposed contract to a vote came two days after it appeared that federally mediated talks in Washington on a separate strike settlement agreement had collapsed.
NBC had wanted to discipline about 30 strikers for offenses it said they committed against the company or non-strikers during the walkout. The union contended that NBC's proposals on that issue were vague and needed clarification.
NBC negotiators went home late Friday night, saying they had made their final proposal. But union negotiators contacted NBC's chief negotiator, Day Krolik III, by phone late Saturday and both sides agreed Sunday on "a couple of changes" in the proposal, Krieger said.
"Disciplinary matters will be subject to grievance and arbitration, so all that has been ironed out," he said. "It (the strike settlement package) had been the only item holding things up."
NBC's contract offer covers the network, and eight radio and five television stations that NBC owns, including KNBC-TV in Burbank.
The strike began when NBC put into effect a two-year contract that union negotiators had rejected. About 700 management and non-striking employees have been filling in for the strikers.
Despite some early on-air glitches, the affects of the strike on NBC's national and local broadcasts haven't been readily apparent to the average viewer.
Cosby Show Moved
However, the walkout forced NBC to move its hit "The Bill Cosby Show" and Phil Donahue's syndicated interview series to non-NBC studios in the New York area because the stars refused to cross NABET picket lines.
A total of 15 separate contracts must be approved in the master agreement proposed by NBC. If any are rejected, Krieger said, the strike will continue until they are resolved.
"I don't know how it's going to go," he said. "There are some things in jurisdictional areas which people are going to find very objectionable. But going 16 weeks into a strike, I don't know how that's going to play. "
Krieger said he didn't know how soon the strikers would be called back to work if the entire package is approved by the membership.
However NBC spokesman Bud Rukyser said that if the package is approved, "It certainly would be our intention to bring people back to work as soon as possible."