It took nine months of negotiations and a two week job action to bring a new contract between Golf Channel and its technicians. Video and audio techs, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees labor union, walked off the job earlier this month in response to a lack of a new contract with Golf Channel. The strike affected Golf Channel’s productions of early PGA Tour events, the Web.com and Champions Tour events.
And it finally ended Wednesday. The IATSE worked for six months without a contract and the new deal is retroactive to June 13, 2017 when the old contract expired. The sticking points had been over higher wages and health-care payments.
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker tweeted the news Wednesday:
Golf Channel technicians strike has ended. Back to work Thursday. They get the increased wages and health care contributions, & Jerry Foltz doesn’t have to worry about ever manning a camera tower again.
— Brian Wacker (@brianwacker1) January 25, 2018
Golf Channel analyst Jerry Foltz had to be recruited to man a camera at the Sony Open in Hawaii on January 14. And when that job action occurred, it led Golf Channel to dramatically cut down on the number of cameras and its announcing crew had to call the action from the studio rather from on-site.
However, despite the complaints about the coverage issues there, ratings for the final round actually increased 86% from the previous year. (The extended playoff may have played a factor, though.)
Golf Channel issued the following statement:
“Golf Channel appreciates that our tournament technicians are returning to work for events beginning Feb. 5. The ratified contract is fair and in line with industry standards, as had been true under the previous contract and prior to the union’s call for a strike that prompted some of its members to walk off the job. We are thankful to all of our staff who rallied to provide seamless and continuous tournament coverage throughout this labor dispute for golf fans worldwide.”
IATSE president Matthew D. Loeb had his own statement:
“Everyone who works in sports broadcasting will benefit from this contract, because it raises the floor for all workers.”
Golf Channel was able to utilize replacement workers and provide traditional coverage for last week’s events. For this week’s LPGA Bahamas tournament, Golf Channel will be fully staffed. While Golf Channel will air coverage from the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open from Los Angeles this weekend, the event will be produced by CBS, which utilizes technicians from another union.