Pension Plans Freeze ABC Contract Talks with Union

March 23, 2007 ( - Contract talks between ABC Television and one of its unions broke off on concerns over ABC's plans to freeze their pension plan.

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA had been meeting for three weeks to bargain a new contract covering 2,500 technicians, camera operators, news writers and other employees throughout the United States, but broke off after “The union bargaining committee’s review of ABC’s proposals found nothing but company attacks on the seniority system, attacks on the pension plan, despite the plan being financially healthy, attacks on jurisdiction of work and attacks on a multitude of other work rules and conditions,” NABET-CWA President John Clark said, according to a press release.

Clark said that after nearly three weeks of negotiations that focused on rollbacks and takeaways, ABC announced that it wants to freeze the NABET-CWA members’ pension plan, despite the fact that it has a credit balance as of December 31, 2007. The union estimates that freezing the plan would reduce the average participant’s retirement benefit by nearly 25%. “The pension proposal will pull the rug out from underneath people who are depending on it for their retirement security after a lifetime of service to ABC,” Clark said. “It is deplorable.”

Network Response

“ABC did not expect NABET to like all the company proposals, just as there are many Nabet proposals that ABC doesn’t like, but we did expect them to negotiate, not just walk away,” the network said in an e-mailed statement, according to MarketWatch. “That is what collective bargaining negotiations is all about. We are shocked and saddened by this precipitous action.”

The current four-year contract expires March 31, 2007. Over the next few days, members of the union bargaining team and local union leaders will be communicating with members and holding meetings to discuss the situation and determine what steps the union will take next, according to a press release .