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Philadelphia news photographers go on strike ahead of pope’s visit

wcau-news-vanDozens of photographers, technicians and other staff members at a local Philadelphia television station have gone on strike mere days before a massive news event is set to take place.

Management at NBC station WCAU-TV (Channel 10) are now resorting to backup plans for their coverage of Pope Francis I’s visit to Philadelphia this weekend after members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers voted to strike on Wednesday.

The strike leaves WCAU without union news photographers, technicians, electricians and other staffers. WCAU says it has come up with a contingency plan that will rely upon “stringer” photographers and non-union freelance staff to fill the roles left empty by striking workers.

The station was notified earlier in the week by union officials that members would vote to strike if an agreement had not been made over a new employment contract. On Wednesday, the members voted to strike after reviewing WCAU management’s final offer, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“NBC10 continues to negotiate in good faith with the IBEW to achieve a mutual resolution of our outstanding issues,” NBCUniversal, the parent company of WCAU, said in a statement released this week. “We are working hard to ensure there will be no impact to our viewers, who will continue to have access to all of our local news and information without interruption.”

One of the main points of contention revolves around WCAU’s desire to replace a handful of union workers with cheaper, non-union employees.

WCAU is a NBC owned-and-operated station. NBC is owned by the cable giant Comcast, which is headquartered in Philadelphia.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).