CNN has agreed to shell out $70 million, settling a 15-year labor dispute with more than 200 former employees.
According to the Washington Examiner, the former employees include “camera operators, broadcast engineers, and other technicians.”
The decade-and-a-half-old labor dispute was contested in the courts several times, including once when former President George W. Bush was still in office.
Here’s more via the report:
The group of employees sued the network after it replaced them with non-union workers. The plaintiffs accused the network of cutting them in order to avoid negotiating with their union and violating federal labor laws. CNN held that it was not legally required to work with the union because the workers were contractors through Team Video Services.
The settlement, which was agreed to by both parties, must still be approved by the National Labor Relations Board.
The initial case, when it was first filed in 2004, hinged entirely on whether CNN was legally considered a “joint employer” of the freelance workers that it hired, Law & Crime reports:
The lawsuit (started back in 2004) raised a number of important legal questions during the 82-day hearing. Among those issues was whether CNN should be deemed a “joint employer” for freelance staffers who’d worked for multiple companies– as is routinely done in the broadcast news industry. Determinations of which companies are “joint employers” for labor purposes are initially made by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – but can be inconsistent across presidential administrations when political differences control individual interpretations of administrative regulations.
The case went before the NLRB during the Obama administration; at the time, the NLRB took a broad about what constituted “joint employers.” In 2017, a three-judge panel of D.C. Circuit Court (which included Judges Merrick Garland, Brett Kavanaugh, and Cornelia Pillard) found that the NLRB had erred in the criteria it used to make that determination.
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Bottom line: In my view, the Board jumped the rails in its analysis of both the joint-employer and the successor-employer issues.
It is unclear when the NLRB will address the tentative agreement.