Contract ratification ballots went out yesterday to more than 2,700 NABET-CWA workers employed at ABC’s news, sports and entertainment divisions and at its owned television stations in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Leaders at the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians – Communications Workers of America are recommending ratification of a new four-year contract, which covers staff and daily hires working as broadcast technicians, news writers, producers, desk assistants, publicists, telecommunications specialists and plant maintenance personnel.

The tentative agreement was the result of more than five months of bargaining and marks the first time in decades that a deal was reached before the expiration of an existing contract. The current contract expires March 31, and the deadline for returning ballots is April 13.

The new pact calls for a 2.5% pay hike upon ratification, a 2.5% pay raise in the second year and 2% pay increases in each of the third and fourth years. Full-time staff employees will get a significant increase in the accrual rate in their pension plan, Disney Main Entrance passes and, within three months of ratification, the union said, some will be receiving buyout offers. For the first time ever, daily hires will be eligible to receive short turnaround pay.

Other improvements for daily hires include a paid sick leave provision, an increase in the travel-day stipend, and enhancements to health and retirement benefit plans.