Today’s post is about an NLRB back pay settlement signed January 10, 2020 with CNN, one of the largest monetary remedies ever signed by the Board. It’s been twelve years from an initial Administrative Law Judge finding in 2008 that CNN violated the NLRA, to an NLRB agreement and ORDER in 2014 to a 2017 DC Court of Appeals ruling that asked the NLRB for further clarification on the joint employer and back pay findings. Finally through the Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program, there is a whopper of a settlement that may impact as many as 300 individuals.
January 10, 2020
Settlement is the largest monetary remedy in the history of the NLRB
As part of a settlement signed today, CNN has agreed to pay $76 million in backpay, the largest monetary remedy in the history of the National Labor Relations Board. The backpay 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 and that CNN was a successor to, and joint employer with, TVS. In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board agreed and ordered CNN to bargain with the unions and provide backpay. 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 backpay 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.
Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the definition of joint employer was published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2018, which can be found here