WBUR employees set to vote on joining union

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WBUR management and the station’s licensee agreed with content staffers Friday to hold an election this month on whether the employees should join the SAG-AFTRA union.

The National Labor Relations Board scheduled a secret ballot election for Feb. 27. The group of staffers seeking to unionize includes content creators such as hosts, reporters, production staff, announcers and digital producers.

“More than 80 percent of the content creating staff signed the petition seeking to unionize together,” said Ally Jarmanning, WBUR digital producer, in a statement. “We appreciate management working with us and can’t wait to get started making WBUR an even better place to work. We are united and inspired by this accomplishment.”

Union organizers petitioned for about 115 employees to be eligible for the unit, according to Jarmanning. However, the list of employees who are eligible to vote is not finalized, according to a spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA, which is representing the proposed union.

WBUR GM Charlie Kravetz confirmed that management entered into a stipulation agreement with union organizers and SAG-AFTRA to hold the election.

“We respect our employees’ right to choose to unionize and have been working in a respectful and constructive fashion with the WBUR Organizing Committee and SAG-AFTRA,” he said in a statement.

The employees petitioned management last month to recognize the union. GM Charlie Kravetz and Boston University Director of Labor Relations Judi Burgess did not accept the petition, according to a Jan. 29 WBUR article.

Kravetz and Gary Nicksa, BU senior VP of operations, said in a statement quoted in the article that they “share many of the workplace goals and aspirations” that union organizers raised in the petition.”

“Because of that common ground, we are asking the staff to continue this conversation with us for a period of time, and see what we can do together, before seeking to affiliate with SAG-AFTRA,” they added. “We hope they agree.”

In their petition to WBUR and Boston University, the station’s licensee, the employees said they are seeking “transparency and equity in compensation” and a “more diverse and inclusive workplace.”

According to WBUR’s article, employees began discussions in August about forming a union, a few months after On Point host Tom Ashbrook was dismissed following an investigation of employee complaints that he had created an abusive work culture. The consulting company investigating the claims recommended ways to improve the station’s culture. WBUR’s article last month said that some employees “are frustrated with what they call the slow pace of any substantive action.”

“As WBUR grows and changes, we hope to foster a culture in which workers feel safe, trusted and appreciated, where our ideas are recognized and our concerns are respected,” the employees’ petition said. “We are organizing to have a collective voice in that process.”

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