NEW YORK CITY and LOS ANGELES – Members of the Writers Guilds of America, East and West (WGAE and WGAW) employed at CBS News have ratified their new collective bargaining agreement soundly. The vote was: 83 % yes; 17% no. The three-year contract covers newswriters, writer/producers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants, graphic artists, and promotion writers working in television and radio on the national and local levels in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The contract, which runs from April 2, 2010 through April 6, 2013, provides solid economic support for members. CBS News staff employees will now be eligible for the Writers Guild pension fund, and the Guilds negotiated minimums for writer-producers for the first time. The contract also establishes minimum representation percentages at local television shops for the first time, guaranteeing the Guilds have a meaningful presence at CBS News as the broadcast news business continues to transform.

In an era where non-guild employees face wage freezes, contract salary rates will actually increase 2% in January 2011 and another 2% in April 2012 under the new Guild contract. Freelance/per diem employees will receive two additional 1% increases over the contract term.

“We achieved our main goals of ensuring that the Guilds and our members have a solid future at CBS News and also realize economic gains. Getting members into the Guild pension plan is a major advance, and we are pleased to also get wage increases for our members,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East.

“In these difficult economic times, and with the news business in such a period of serious change, we are pleased that our unions have successfully negotiated and voted approval of a new contract with CBS News. All credit and thanks to the hardworking, committed members of the negotiating committee and the staffs of the Guilds East and West,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East.

“We want to thank the members of the negotiating committee for the countless hours of work they put into this effort. Their dedication helps keep our unions strong,” said John Wells, president of the Writers Guild of America, West.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.