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Report: Judge Rules Stephens Media Cuts Violated Labor Laws


Stephens Media Group
Stephens Media Group

According to NNY360.com, Stephens Media Group and the National Labor Relations Board have been in an eight-month legal battle over the company's decision to lay off multiple air personalities from its Watertown stations, while reducing hours for part-time personalities in 2018. But now, administrative law judge Charles J. Muhl has ruled the company violated labor laws when it dismissed the hosts.

NNY360.com reports that the Watertown layoffs followed issues with contract negotiations between the company and the union representing the hosts, the Local 51024 chapter of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America. The judge found that because both Stephens Media and the union had not reached a valid impasse in contract negotiations, the company's decision to lay off three Watertown hosts, eliminate weekend shifts and reduce work hours for part-time hosts violated national labor laws.

The judge has now ordered Stephens Media to "restore all terms and conditions of employment" for the affected workers and offer positions to the radio hosts who lost their jobs and the weekend slots & hours that were eliminated to part-time hosts. The National Labor Relations Board will review the judge's motion and decide whether to affirm it or request modifications, in a process that could last a year or longer.

Stephen's Media owner David P. Stephens says his company plans to appeal unfavorable portions of the ruling. The judge did find that the company had not engaged in surface bargaining, which Stephens said he found encouraging, along with comments about the credibility of witnesses from both sides, reported NNY360.com. "Negotiations can begin today, but the union has refused to negotiate. They have refused to negotiate with us since October of 2018," said Stephens.

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