[US] CNN will spend $70million to settle labour dispute

The broadcaster CNN has agreed to pay a $70million settlement to end a 15-year-old labour lawsuit brought by more than 200 former CNN camera operators, broadcast engineers and other technicians, Washington Examiner reports.

The employees sued as a response to the network replacing them with non-union workers. The plaintiffs said the network had got rid of them in order to avoid negotiating with their union and violating federal labour laws. CNN reportedly claimed it was not legally required to work with the union because the workers were contractors through Team Video Services.

The settlement was agreed to by both parties but it must still be approved by the National Labour Relations Board.

The question of whether CNN could be considered a "joint employer" of contractors that also freelance for other companies formed a significant part of the lawsuit. A joint-employer status would give the workers' union a much greater legal foundation to negotiate with the network.

CNN would probably not have been classified as a joint employer if the case had gone before the NLRB under the Bush administration when it was filed. However, the case came before the board during the Obama years and the Democrat-led labour panel took a broader view of what constituted a joint-employer and ruled that CNN met the qualifications.

As reported in Law and Crime (originally linked by Washington Examiner), in 2017 a three-judge panel overturned the NLRB's ruling.

Former Democratic NLRB member Wilma Liebman said ( via Bloomberg Law), "It was an extremely lengthy proceeding both in terms of the hearings and the decision, if they didn't settle at this point, they would have had to go back and litigate a number of factual issues.”