Monday evening, 6/27/05 Negotiations started today for the UNtv contract. The United Nations television crew has been staffed for the last 12 years by EJ electric, and represented by IBEW 1212 has just recently lost their contract. According to union negotiators, the negotions are going very poorly. Vendor Services Group (VSG), recently won the bid to negotiate for the new contract. The company is run by President Dave Shaw, formerly of Madison Square Gardens. EJ electric is only the second company to hold the UN contract for UNtv since the start of the UN. The contract was held previously for 48 years by Eichwald. IBEW 1212 (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) has been with the workers since the UN charter. The crew is made up of dedicated employees who have worked in this job for many years, and evolved from the original crew of UN television. They work the General Assembly sound system, and provide live audio and video feeds internationally. The Press was recently told at the noon briefing that it was going to be a smooth transition to the proposed new contractor. According to the Union contract negotiators, "negotiations are going very, very poorly." "It is not going to be a smooth transition, the proposed contractor and the UN are offering severe Union busting tactics, offering unfair business deals and planning to let go of many dedicated employees." These are dedicated employees who have served the UN very well for many, many years." There are plans for immediate lay-offs, and many more down the line. There are only two Black women included in the entire crew of UNtv. One is slated to be fired immediately. At the end of the first days negotiations, the bottom line is that "negotiations are going very poorly, and by thursday night, 12:00 am Friday morning, the grounds passes expire for the entire UN television crew who operate the sound for the general assembly, the daily noon press briefings, they produce the audio / video clips, the audio / video live feeds and archives, and the International feeds. One UN tv crew member said of Friday's coming lock-out: "All we want to do is keep working as we have been without all these threats." "The UN promises the Press Corps a smooth transition, though how can it be a smooth transition when they plan to fire all these people? -do they expect us to lay down and take it? We are strong and united. This could be a disaster for the UN and the Press corps, it would mean: No General Assembly, no press breifings, no audio clips, no video clips, and no live International feeds." He also clearly added that "It would not be a strike, the workers would be Locked Out." When Dave Shaw's MSG management recently tried to replace the Madison Square Garden's crew, the new hires did not know how to work the equipment. There are 2 more days of negotiations. Another interesting note for this coming weekend- if Bolton is voted in over the 4th of July Congressional recess, then Monday could potentially bring about many changes indeed, reminding some of the UN changes in 1986 during the Reagan administration. Being that the United Nations is headquartered in the USA, this is an interesting start to the 4th of July weekend. Many workers are waiting to hear just how long their weekend will be. ---- tahira faune alford independent journalist, UN correspondent tahira ((a)) indymedia.org