KCRW employees plan to join SAG-AFTRA; KUOW unit approves first contract

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Employees at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., revealed Monday their intent to join SAG-AFTRA, the same day the union’s bargaining unit at Seattle’s KUOW announced it had approved its first-ever contract.

The KCRW staffers made their announcement from a new “We Make KCRW” Twitter account.

Employees have been planning to join SAG-AFTRA for several months, said Jennifer Wolfe, coordinator for KCRW’s Berlin station and a staffer authorized to speak on behalf of the union hopefuls. “There wasn’t a tipping point. … We just thought that collectively it would be better to speak with one voice,” Wolfe told Current.

The organizers hope to hold an election by the end of the month. “Management has been very supportive of the process, and they want to keep the lines of communication open with us,” Wolfe said. “We consider that a great sign.”

Meanwhile, the 43-employee unit at KUOW ratified its contract after a year of negotiations with the University of Washington, which holds KUOW’s license. “For a first contract, this is outstanding and will give many of our lowest-paid colleagues an immediate boost in salary along with guaranteed yearly increases,” said senior reporter Ann Dornfeld in a press release.

The contract also provides on-call pay, free public transportation for union members and time-and-a-half for holidays worked plus an extra holiday credit.

KUOW staffers voted to join SAG-AFTRA in February 2018. In January, the union filed a complaint against KUOW and UW alleging that the station was retaliating against the unionizing effort when it laid off staff last year. Washington state’s Public Employment Relations Commission dismissed the complaint in April.

Current is reporting an article examining why more public radio station employees are joining unions and how unionizing has affected their organizations. Do you work at a station where a union represents employees? Please take our brief survey.

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