Owner of Massena radio station files unfair labor practice charge against union
Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 5:59 am

MASSENA -- Stephens Media Group (SMG) has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) for allegedly refusing to bargain collectively with Stephens Media Group – Watertown, LLC and Stephens Media Group – Massena, LLC.

“The previous, collective bargaining agreements expired almost two years ago. Yet, the union refuses to bargain in good faith to reach new agreements,” said Stephens Media Group owner, David Stephens. “We had no choice but to file these charges,” Stephens said in a press release.

These new charges come on the heels of the recent ruling by National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge, Charles J. Muhl.

Acording to a story on wnylabortoday.com from Jan. 29 story that in his ruling, Muhl ordered Stephens Media Group to rehire employees in both Watertown and Massena and give them back pay. Stephens operates affected radio station WMSA in Massena, and Froggy 97 and Z 93 in Watertown.

At the heart of Judge Muhl’s ruling is whether or not SMG and the union are at impasse over previously negotiated points, Stephens’ press release said. SMG claims the parties are at impasse. Muhl ruled they were not.

According to the web story, Muhl ruled the company was wrong to lay off full time employees Dianne Chase, Frank Laverghetta and Michael Stoffel, and was wrong to reduce or eliminate part-time employee shifts.

“We believe SMG and the union are at impasse over the issue of who is going to control the entertainment value of the stations,” the press release from Stephens said. “The union’s position is such that decisions should be based on DJ seniority alone. SMG prefers a merit-based system whereby DJ’s are hired and air shifts are filled based on their talent, for both live and voice tracked shifts,” said Stephens.

“To remain competitive, SMG needs the ability to program the stations as it sees fit. Talent, and not seniority, should determine who gets to be heard on the air. The union refuses to negotiate this point with SMG. Their failure to negotiate is a violation of the law and proof we are at impasse,” Stephens said. “Further, the Unions refusal impacts our ability to expand and create new, higher paying jobs for our employees.”

The National Labor Relations Board could rule on the matter within the next few months.