Fox Television Stations Took a Round About but Effective Way to Reach Impasse

Fox Television Stations sought a wage reduction and other concessions from the Communications Workers of America during recent labor negotiations. When no agreement was reached by an agreed-upon deadline, Fox lawfully implemented an older contract offer much to chagrin of the CWA.

Fox and the Union had been negotiating a successor agreement for two years when in November 2012 the union rank and filed voted down a new collective bargaining agreement that was supported by the Union negotiators. After further negotiations, Fox told the Union it needed an affirmative ratification vote by the members in May 2013 or it would declare impasse and implement its November 2012 agreement. When the membership voted down the May 2013 contract, Fox declared negotiations were at an impasse and implemented the November 2012 proposal as its last, best, and final offer.

I caution companies against using this case as a blueprint to prematurely reach impasse. Rather, the facts here are unique. For example, the Union refused to give ground on most of the eight listed priority areas for Fox, the Union refused to recognize that it had already agreed to accept the November 2012 deal if the May 2013 one wasn’t ratified, and the Union engaged in regressive bargaining after rejecting the May 2013 offer. Only if your company’s facts start to parallel these should you consider following in Fox’s footsteps – but even then, seek the advice of competent legal counsel before declaring impasse.