CNN to pay $76 Million in Back Wages, Largest Sum in NLRB History

As part of a settlement signed this month, CNN has agreed to pay $76 million in back pay, the largest monetary remedy in the history of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The back pay amount, larger than what the agency collects on average in a typical year, is expected to benefit over 300 individuals.

The dispute originated in 2003 when CNN terminated a contract with Team Video Services (TVS), a company that had been providing CNN video services in Washington, D.C., and New York City. After terminating the contract, CNN hired new employees to perform the same work without recognizing or bargaining with the two unions that had represented the TVS employees. CNN sought to operate as a nonunion workplace and conveyed to the workers that their prior employment with TVS and union affiliation disqualified them from employment.

After a lengthy hearing in 2008, an administrative law judge found that CNN’s actions violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and that CNN was a successor to, and joint employer with, TVS. In 2014, the NLRB agreed and ordered CNN to bargain with the unions and provide back pay.

Later, in 2017, a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland and then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, adopted the majority of the board’s findings, and enforced the board’s order that CNN cease and desist from refusing to recognize and bargain with the unions.  However, the court remanded the board’s joint employer finding for further clarification, along with the issue of back pay for further consideration by the board.

After the case was remanded, the parties agreed to resolve their dispute through the board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program. Since then, numerous board staff have worked diligently with all concerned parties to reach today’s settlement.

General Counsel Peter B. Robb noted that “the settlement demonstrates the board’s continued commitment to enforcing the law and ensuring employees who were treated unfairly obtain the monetary relief ordered by the Board.”

The parties are the National Labor Relations Board, CNN America, Inc., and Local 11 and Local 31 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.

NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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