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Union Stages One-Day Work Stoppage at ABC

Labor: Network says workers will be locked out until they promise to give notice of future walkouts.

November 03, 1998| From Associated Press

About 2,200 off-camera employees of "Monday Night Football" and other ABC programs staged a one-day strike Monday, leading to technical glitches on news shows and a shutdown at two soap operas.

The union members planned to return to work at 5 a.m. today, but ABC said they will be locked out until they promise to give the network warning of future strikes.

"We cannot and will not allow our programming to be held hostage to sneak attacks by the union," ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said.

The National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians staged the walkout to protest the manner in which their health plan was negotiated.

In Los Angeles, as many as 600 NABET members participated in the strike. A number of them picketed ABC's Los Angeles offices in Century City.

In a statement, ABC said it had "no choice but to lock out" striking NABET workers, because they were endangering the "perishable product" of ABC's broadcasts. An ABC spokeswoman said these jobs were being covered by other ABC employees, and that Walt Disney Co., ABC's parent firm, also would use temporary workers on broadcasts, including "Monday Night Football."

One Los Angeles ABC employee said a strike had been anticipated for some time, and that some non-NABET workers were alerted Friday evening to be prepared for a possible walkout Monday.

Half the strikers were based in New York, with the rest in Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. They include camera operators, desk assistants, couriers and the 75-person crew for the football game.

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