Unionized cameramen and technicians picketed NBC10's offices in Bala Cynwyd on the eve of one of this year's biggest TV events in Philadelphia - Pope Francis' weekend visit.

An NBCUniversal official said early Friday evening that the media company was talking with the union. If the labor dispute is not resolved, NBC10 intends to use footage from other NBC stations or freelancers in Philadelphia covering Pope Francis, she said.

Frank Keel, a spokesman for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, which represents the NBC10 employees, said he was unaware of Friday bargaining between the union and NBCUniversal, describing the situation as "status quo."

There are about 65 striking employees.

The labor action came as something of a surprise - and embarrassment - when the NBC employees walked off the job Thursday. Comcast Corp. owns NBCUniversal - and thus NBC10 - and has been a big supporter of the papal visit.

The union erected the inflatable rat and began picketing outside the Comcast Center on Thursday evening. The rat was taken away a short time later and won't be seen again during the papal visit, said a union source who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.

The contract expired last summer. Ric Harris, the president and general manager of NBC10 and sister TV station Telemundo62, said in a memorandum distributed Friday morning that the sticking point has been work-rule flexibility.

bfernandez@phillynews.com

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