After more than two years of fruitless contract bargaining, the owner of Portland CBS affiliate KOIN-6 TV told NABET-CWA Local 51 that the company will no longer recognize the union or negotiate. Since 2017, KOIN has been owned by the nation’s largest television broadcaster, publicly-traded Nexstar Media Group, a Dallas-headquartered behemoth with 197 TV stations. Via a FedExed letter in January, Nexstar told union negotiator Carrie Briggs-Adams that it doesn’t have to keep negotiating because most workers at KOIN don’t want the union any more.
Briggs-Adams felt like Nexstar hadn’t been negotiating seriously anyway, but says there’s no basis for the claim that the union has lost majority support. Pro-union workers at KOIN collected the signatures of 26 of the 41 represented employees on petitions saying they still want to be union-represented. The employees are news photographers, engineers, editors, assignment desk editors, directors, web producers, and commercial production workers. Father Jack Mosbrucker, a retired Roman Catholic priest, then presented those petitions Feb. 20 to station manager Pat Nevin at KOIN’s 222 SW Columbia St. offices.
Since January, NABET has been asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a court injunction ordering the company to return to the bargaining table. Nexstar stopped returning Briggs-Adams’ calls and emails, and was a no-show to a scheduled bargaining session Jan. 23-24, leaving NABET stuck paying the $1,000 tab for the Portland Hilton meeting room. NABET has also filed NLRB charges accusing Nexstar of failing to negotiate in good faith, and disciplining a worker in retaliation for union activity. A federal judge is set to hear the charges May 19.