Employees at Seattle’s Cascade Public Media seek union representation

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The headquarters of Cascade Public Media in Seattle.

Digital news employees at Cascade Public Media in Seattle informed management Monday of their intent to form a union.

The employees are part of Crosscut, a digital news organization that merged with public TV station KCTS in 2015 to form Cascade Public Media.

Crosscut has “struggled to retain and recruit talented staff,” over the past year, according to a letter shared on Twitter by Crosscut employees. “Part of that is due to pay that doesn’t keep up with Seattle’s rising cost of living; part of it is because of management’s unwillingness to offer vacation and other benefits commensurate with what experienced professionals can find elsewhere.”

In an email to newsroom staff that Cascade Public Media also provided to Current, Cascade management said it declined to voluntarily recognize the union because “not every employee who may be subject to union representation is included on the mission statement submitted today.”

Cascade Public Media said in a statement provided to Current that it is reviewing the petition for election.

“We will respond to the petition filed with the NLRB and will follow all procedures,” the statement said. “Our organization respects the rights of individual employees to form a collective bargaining unit, and we are committed to a fair and open process for all.”

The proposed union is represented by the NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America that represents journalists and digital media professionals.

The unit would cover about 20 employees, including reporters, producers, video editors, photographers and digital staffers, according to a press release. Nearly 90 percent of eligible staffers signed cards indicating support for the union. The employees are asking management for voluntary recognition of their union.

“By forming a union, we are seeking a greater role in shaping decisions that affect our lives, as well as the quality of the product we deliver to our growing audience,” said the statement, which 18 staff members signed.

Employees at public media stations across the country have joined unions in recent years, including at Seattle’s KUOW, where staffers ratified their first contract last month.

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