By Doug Ferguson / Associated Press
HONOLULU — Union workers for video and audio production at Golf Channel events walked out Sunday over stalled contract negotiations, leading to limited coverage of the final round at the Sony Open and two other events in the Bahamas and Florida.
Golf Channel said it has been negotiating an agreement for nine months with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union for tournament technicians at golf tournaments, such as the camera crew.
The strike involves only tournaments that Golf Channel produces.
The network also produces the CareerBuilder Challenge next week in Palm Desert, California. CBS Sports produces the following week at Torrey Pines, where Tiger Woods plays on the PGA Tour for the first time in a year.
“Golf Channel has been working on negotiating an agreement for nine months with a union that represents our live tournament technicians,” the network said in a statement. “Those efforts have not yet yielded a resolution, and we look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable contract. However, some technicians have chosen to walk off the job today. We have contingency plans in place, and will continue to deliver coverage.”
It declined further comment, such as how it will provide coverage.
The Sony Open telecast was scheduled for 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern, and starting times are set for the final group to finish in that window. However, the PGA Tour moved up tee times by about an hour, so that the last group finishes around 9:15 p.m.
Some three dozen IATSE members from Local 665 picketed outside the main road into Waialae Country Club in support of the Golf Channel’s technical crew. John Culleeny, an international representative for the union, said its members wanted Golf Channel to meet industry standards. He was not specific on the talking points that stalled negotiations.
The video and audio crew had talked about walking out during the third round Saturday but held back for another meeting. Culleeny said the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.
Golf Channel is producing three tournaments next week — the CareerBuilder Challenge, another Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas and the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Along with the Sony Open, Golf Channel is televising the second round of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas, a 72-hole event that ends on Tuesday. It also is televising the unofficial Diamond Resorts Invitational in Orlando, Florida, for players from the PGA Tour Champions, LPGA Tour and celebrities.
Golf Channel has headquarters in Orlando and likely will be able to have more complete coverage of that event.
The PGA Tour sent notices to its players on all tours notifying them of the labor dispute.
“We are working closely with our partners at the Golf Channel to provide as much television coverage as possible,” the tour said in a statement.
It said fans could follow the tournaments with real-time scoring on its website, through social media channels and PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM for the Sony Open.