EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR, AP) – A labor protest at the Matthew Knight Arena Saturday was one of many against the Pac-12's newly founded television network.
More than a dozen union members from the Eugene chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) picketed the east gate of the arena Saturday afternoon, December 8. The east gate is where television productions typically park broadcast vans and shuttle equipment in and out of the arena.
The IATSE union represents local freelance employees who do camera work, audio and dozens of other behind-the -cenes broadcast jobs for television networks. Many of the freelancers take part in staffing the production crew on sporting event broadcasts.
IATSE members say the Pac-12 Network is hiring people below a standard wage and benefit level. The union says the network has also refused to have any kind of discussion with them.
“They (protestors) work as freelancers. They need all of their jobs to be done under contract in order to be able to get their health and retirement benefits and the Pac-12's refusal to deal with this issue is undermining not only these employees here but they're undermining our other collective bargaining agreements and that's something that's too serious for us to ignore,” said Daniel DiTolla, Vice President of the IATSE Union.
Similar protests took place at other Pac-12 Networks' broadcasts on Saturday in Tempe, Arizona on the Arizona State University campus; Corvallis, Oregon on the Oregon State University campus; Los Angeles, California on the University of Southern California campus and in Seattle, Washington at the University of Washington campus.
In response to the protests, the Pac-12 Networks released this statement on Saturday:
"We respect an individual's right to decide whether to be represented by a union. Regardless of how they decide, we will remain focused on creating an environment that is inclusive, respectful and allows us to have direct relationships with our staff and contractors. We are building a robust enterprise that offers competitive compensation, an exciting and creative work environment, and growing work opportunities for industry professionals, campus staff and students from our universities for many years to come."
--Kirk Reynolds, Vice President of Communications for Pac-12 Enterprises.
According to the Associated Press, since the Pac-12 Network went on the air in September, the network has employed technicians represented by the IATSE at ten of the league's schools in the union's jurisdiction. But the union says the network has used non-union labor on many events in those markets or a combination of union and non-union labor working side by side.