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MacNEIL STAFF REJECTS UNION

A bid for union representation on the part of writers, producers and reporters at public TV’s “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” has been voted down, according to election results released here Friday by the National Labor Relations Board.

The results showed that in an election held last week at the New York and Washington offices of the news program, off-camera staff members voted 20-12 against a proposal to be represented by the Writers Guild of America. Thirty-nine were eligible to vote.

“We are pleased that the majority of the staff believed our argument that we can deal with their anxieties and grievances,” Robert MacNeil said by phone from his office here Friday. MacNeil and his longtime partner, Jim Lehrer, produce and co-anchor the “NewsHour” and had opposed the union bid strongly.

About three-fourths of the “NewsHour” staff initially sought the support of the Writers Guild and petitioned for last week’s election on the grounds that they wanted “a voice in matters of salary, promotions and work conditions.”

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A spokesperson for the group said earlier this month that “longstanding gripes” on the part of the staff had been ignored by management in its concentrated efforts at improving the contents of the one-hour news program.

In acknowledging that the concerns remain, a member of the pro-union group said Friday: “The ball is in management’s court. . . . We will wait to see if the concerns are addressed.”

Said MacNeil: “We plan to sit down and seriously examine our structure and our policies in light of the various complaints, to see what needs to be fixed.”


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