The showdown between NBC O&O WCAU and 65 striking Photographers and Technicians is getting nasty and NBC says they are looking to replace the striking workers.
WCAU General Manager Ric Harris told employees in an email on Wednesday that the station is looking to hire replacement workers and that the positions of strikers had been posted on job sites.
Harris also emailed that the company's final offer to the union that included a "no-layoff guarantee" for the contract that extends to 2018.
On Thursday, union spokesman Frank Keel - accompanied by strikers who are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 - held a news conference in City Hall on the same day that Comcast officials were to meet with city officials over the company's cable-TV franchise renewal.
The union has targeted Comcast, which owns WCAU through its NBCUniversal subsidiary, as a strike tactic. The union has picketed the Comcast Center and posted an inflatable rat outside its doors.
The WCAU broadcast technicians also walked out two days before the pope's visit, forcing the station to find freelancers and others as replacements for its live coverage of the papal festivities.
Keel contended that WCAU violated safety protocols during Pope Francis' visit in late September so that an uncredentialed cameraman from Texas could participate in the pope coverage for NBC10.
Keel said an WCAU news executive gave his picture-ID pope credential to the out-of-town NBC cameraman. Security flagged the Texas NBC employee, who then obtained an official credential on the spot, Keel said.
An NBCUniversal spokeswoman did not comment on the claim.
James Foy, the union's assistant business manager, said on Thursday that the union has been flexible in its negotiations and that it would like a deal. The last contract between WCAU and the IBEW expired more than a year ago.
One issue holding up a deal is related to automating the NBC10 control room, where two people now work, Foy said. After the automation, one will work there.
Either way, with the station taking steps to replace the striking workers, look for the union to back off soon and strike a deal.