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WYPR radio staff files for union representation

June 6, 2014
By

Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 4.54.43 PMLocal National Public Radio affiliate WYPR’s programming staff are going union. A press release from SAG-AFTRA says the staff presented a petition to management on June 3, and today has filed the petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an election.

WYPR management has not yet voluntarily recognized the union, the press release says.

Aaron Henkin, producer of “The Signal,” says official announcements about the union effort must come from the union itself now, during a “quiet period” mandated by labor law. He stresses that the staff is not trying to be contentious. “We’re interested in doing this for the long term strength and solidarity of the radio station,” Henkin says. “We want to make it as non-confrontational as possible.”

Neither the union contact nor the station management immediately returned calls and emails from City Paper. We’ll update this post when and if we hear from them.

A former employee in programming says he was not aware of the organizing effort. “Pay isn’t great,” the former employee says. “There’s not a known policy about raises, or whatever.”

Here’s the official statement:

On June 3, an overwhelming majority of WYPR public-media professionals delivered a petition informing management they had formed a union. The petition asks WYPR management to voluntarily recognize SAG-AFTRA as their representative and begin negotiating a contract. SAG-AFTRA represents public-media professionals across the country.

WYPR management has not yet recognized the union.

On June 6, a petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board. WYPR management can still voluntarily recognize the union at any time during the NLRB process.

The editorial staff at WYPR is deeply committed to the work that we do. We all believe in the value of public radio, as well as WYPR’s mission to produce high-quality journalism. We want to see the station improve and better serve listeners across the state. We believe that a unionized editorial staff, working with station management and its board is the best way to do that.

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UPDATE June 9, 2014, 5 p.m.

Here is WYPR’s response, in the form of an emailed press release from a PR firm. The statement is attributed to Andy Bienstock, Vice President of Programming:

“On Thursday, June 5, 2014, we were presented with a Petition from some of our employees asking WYPR to recognize SAG-AFTRA.  It has come to our attention that a significant number of our employees are not interested in joining a union.  In respect of their preferences, we want to make sure that we proceed in a manner that takes into account what is best for all employees and the station.  The law provides for a secret ballot election, and we believe this is the best way for our employees to exercise their rights.”

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