NPR plans to recognize digital staffers’ union

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NPR said Wednesday that it intends to recognize a union of employees who work on the network’s digital operations.

A group of NPR staffers asked the network Monday to voluntarily recognize the union. About 63 staffers will be in the union, according to a press release by the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians–Communications Workers of America, which will represent the employees. 

The employees work in content operations, design, digital support, product management and software engineering. 

“NPR supports employees’ right to decide whether to be represented by a union, and we are committed to upholding that right,” NPR said in a statement. “NPR has conveyed its intention to voluntarily recognize NABET-CWA Local 31 as the exclusive bargaining representative of non-supervisory employees within the DM Content Operations, Design, Development, and Product groups of NPR’s Digital Media team, pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act, subject to a neutral third party verification of union authorization cards.”

A union representative told Current that more than 90% of employees signed cards supporting the union. 

“We’re proud to work at a place that immediately understood our desire to unionize and came to agreeable terms within our timeframe,” the union said in a statement.

“We hope the success of our campaign is part of a greater movement in tech organizing that will positively impact the efforts of fellow technologists across the industry,” union members added.

On a website announcing its unionization efforts, the group said its priorities include equal pay, increased staffing, restrictions on the use of temporary status, and hiring processes that ensure diverse applicants.  

“Like so many tech workers who have organized this spring, we want to do our part to promote professional ethics; technical excellence; and diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industries,” according to the website. “The formation of our union also represents our commitment to public media’s journalistic and cultural mission in the digital era.”

“I’m supporting the unionization efforts because NPR’s mission is too critical not to,” said Frank J. Gómez, a senior software engineer at NPR, in a press release. “As the importance of digital in public media grows, it is essential that NPR does everything in its power to retain the exceptional talent I have the privilege of working with every day, and to ensure we have the technical leadership necessary to guide us forward.”

“This announcement represents a major step for these workers toward finding their collective voice with respect to what matters the most to them,” NABET-CWA Local 31 President Robert Williams said in a Monday press release.

NABET-CWA also represents engineers and technicians at NPR. The digital staffers will form a separate bargaining unit. 

More than 500 reporters, producers, editors and other NPR workers are part of a Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union. That union had also called on NPR management to recognize the new NABET union.

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