CNN NLRB Hearing Case Report: February '08

CNN Trial Update

            It has been said that the road to hell is paved with little rocks.  So it is in the litigation of the CNN case where piece by piece the NLRB is presenting evidence to prove the allegations that TVS and CNN were closely linked, with CNN calling the shots, to justify a finding of joint employer status.  Likewise, the hiring process at the time the TVS contract was cancelled is being closely examined to show how the deck was stacked against hiring a majority of union employees.

            While I am still unable to share with you the specifics of testimony, I can report that the trial is going well.  Sarah Pacheco, the Executive Board member for the TVS-CNN unit has been attending the trial and has assisted the lawyers in the nitty gritty of the industry and the intricacies of the TVS-CNN operations.  The Local owes a debt to Sarah for stepping up to perform this important function.  She reports that the trial has given her new insights and has allowed her an opportunity to relive the events leading up to the December 2003 massacre of the TVS unit.  She also acknowledges that the trial at times can be as dull as dishwater.  Some days she feels that she is on a stakeout waiting for something big to happen.

            The initial predictions that the D.C. phase of the trial could be completed in several months have proved to be overly optimistic.  Administrative Law Judge Amchan has decided that even though the trial in D.C. will not be completed in March, the proceedings will move to New York on March 10, 2008 to take evidence concerning the New York bureau and that when the New York phase of the trial is completed, it will return to D.C. to allow for the D.C. phase to be completed.  Although, it is tough to predict with any degree of certainty, it is not anticipated that the trial will resume in D.C. before June.

            The judge’s order makes sense because it will give the D.C. attorneys sufficient time to more thoroughly examine the voluminous documents that have been turned over by CNN and TVS pursuant to subpoena.  It is hard to wade through more than one hundred thousand documents while conducting a trial.  The initial review of the documents has already produced hundreds of relevant exhibits supportive of the legal theories in the case.  A close examination of the documents is expected to pay further dividends.

            This case is the largest on-going NLRB case in the country.  The legal principles at stake are of vital importance to the labor movement.  We are in this for the long haul to vindicate the right of the NABET Locals to represent the technical employees at the CNN Washington D.C. and New York bureaus, to recoup the back pay owed to the TVS employees who were cast aside as part of the union avoidance scheme of TVS-CNN, and to make whole the current employees at the CNN bureaus who have suffered losses by the failure of CNN to observe the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

            I am pleased to report that two experienced NLRB trial specialists have been added to the case.  David Biggar will be working primarily with the DC portion of the trial.  Dorothy Foley will be initially working on the New York phase of the case.

            KEEP THE FAITH.  YES WE CAN!