Eleven producers, engineers and artists working for Snap Studios LLC, a subsidiary of KQED in San Francisco that produces the radio show and podcast Snap Judgment and the supernatural podcast Spooked, announced plans last week to form a union.
Under the name Workers of Snap Studios, the employees said in a Sept. 18 letter that they were not notified about KQED acquiring their shows last month until the news was publicly announced, adding that the deal helped trigger their desire to bargain collectively.
“We were not offered opportunities to discuss, negotiate, or advocate for ourselves,” the employees said. “While we are thrilled to be joining KQED’s staff of talented and creative professionals, we cannot move forward without a seat at the table and a voice in important decisions that directly affect us.”
“KQED has received the letter from those employees seeking to organize and, as requested, responded to confirm receipt,” a KQED spokesperson said in an email to Current. “We recognize their right to organize.”
The spokesperson did not respond to Current’s question about whether leaders would voluntarily recognize the union. If it doesn’t, staffers will seek an election with the National Labor Relations Board. Workers of Snap Studios are organizing under the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America Local 51. NABET-CWA represents other KQED staffers.
The union said in its letter that it will negotiate for “fair compensation; an adequate and inclusive benefits package that builds on our established working conditions, not takes away from them; protections for our intellectual property; and fair and transparent contractor practices.”
Before the KQED acquisition, managers at Snap Judgment Studios laid off staff over the past year and cut salaries, “forcing us into a place of uncertainty and financial precarity,” according to the letter.
“It varied, but there were people on staff who received significant decreases in pay. … There were people who were not receiving raises, there were people who had a small decrease in salary,” said a Snap Judgment Studios staff member who requested anonymity because KQED had not authorized them to speak to the media. The employee also said management laid off four staffers prior to the KQED acquisition.
Snap Judgment, launched in 2010, broadcasts weekly on more than 460 NPR stations, including in the top 10 markets. As a podcast, the show averages approximately 1.5 million downloads each month. Spooked launched in 2017. Both programs are distributed by PRX and are available for free on major podcast platforms.